While at a recent screening, two incidents occurred. One involved a volunteer infiltrating his way into our conversation while taking on a Black venacular and the other involved a man extending his white privilege. This white man literally was two paces in front of me, stopped in his tracks, looked me in my face and proceeded to throw his arms over numerous seats including the one I was about to sit in. After an extensive verbal exchange in which he accused me of separating him from his party, I proceeded to sit in the seat he rudely threw his hand across.
Why did I share this? Because, it’s a blatant example of how microaggressive behavior is consistently extended toward Black people in some of the most mundane instances. It’s disrespectful and done with the sort of entitlement that make one’s blood boil. It’s the same reason why race relations continue to go unhealed, irrepairable and a constant struggle within our society.
With You People, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris (in his feature directorial debut) and Jonah Hill have found a way to address all of it in a manner that will make you laugh out loud, yet make you stop and think for a second.
When a rideshare mix-up in Los Angeles has Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill) and Amira Mohammed (Lauren London) in the same car, the two find themselves unexpectedly connecting over a shared love of streetwear and music. As they fall in love and begin plans to marry, their relationship is tested by Ezra’s progressive and semi-woke parents (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny) and Amira’s staunchly concerned parents (Eddie Murphy and Nia Long) who inject themselves into the couple’s lives unapologetically.
This modern love story is set amidst clashing cultures and interfaith relationships which makes for the best type of comedy. Julia Louis Dreyfus is hysterical as that white woman we all know and thinks she is completely aware and actually is the total complete opposite. Between her comments about “the police” and accidentally snatching a lace front off a bridal shower attendee, this doll will have you crying with laughter.
Eddie Murphy morphs into this calm brother whose actions and shenanigans speak louder than anything that could ever tumble out of his mouth. It’s a side of Murphy we don’t see often on screen, but is a nice quiet fire version that I was completely into. Nia Long is having a cinematic moment where she is literally everywhere right now and her time is this film is powerful, yet all too brief.
However, I can not say enough about Jonah Hill and his writing. When I tell you there is moment after moment of quips and super smart dialogue, not mention the whole “Guess Who’s Going to Roscoe’s” scene that had me howling. Many would criticize Kenya Barris for repeatedly crafting stories centered around interracial relationships. I don’t agree. In my opinion, Barris is writing what he knows throwing a comedic spin on it from a Black man’s point of view and I, for one, can appreciate it.
Are there a few scenes that could’ve been shortened. Sure. The whole rehearsal dinner scene could have been shortened or omitted altogether as it really doesn’t serve the story moving forward other than setting up a conflict between Amira and her impending mother-in-law.
You People mostly excels in unapologetically grasping differences between races and faiths. No matter how hard as we may try to accept or understand one another, we all still have a long journey ahead. Will we see that bridge crossed during our lifetime? One can only hope so.