“You” traffics in progressive guilt, lack of laughter

Some modern movies wallow in woke bromides. Others have one or two progressive lectures, but otherwise offer simple stories.

And then there is “You People”.

The movie doesn’t flirt with woke sides or stop for important lessons about race or patriarchy. Woke is built into the film’s DNA, intertwined with every scene.

That’s two strikes against most projects, but “You People” offers a brilliant cast to pull off its talking points. It’s unfortunately not enough, even if Eddie Murphy shows that he hasn’t lost an ounce of his comic brilliance.

Jonah Hill stars as Ezra, a Jewish man in his thirties whose love life has fallen on hard times. No one seems to “have it,” and even the women who seem like the best dating material can’t get its heart beating.

Then he meets the (cute) Amira (Lauren London), a fiercely independent woman who happens to be black. Love blooms in a hurry, and six months later the couple are talking about marriage. This is the worst possible news for Amira’s parents (Murphy, Nia Long), strict Muslims who see Ezra as a horrible partner for their daughter.

Ezra’s parents (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Duchovny) bleed progressive blue, and they’re thrilled to invite a woman of color into their family.

“We are going to have brown grandchildren”, screams the character of Louis-Dreyfus.

Cultures clash, and Ezra’s parents behave like the most ignorant liberals on planet Earth. A prime example? Duchovny’s character keeps genuflecting in front of rapper Xzibit’s altar. Because he’s black, you see, and Amira too. Find? Does anyone really think like that?

This is just one of the many problems plaguing “You people”.

Louis-Dreyfus’ Shelley never feels like a real person. She’s a comically deformed wokester who apparently hasn’t met a black person in her life. She adores Amira’s hair and nails, turning muted compliments into offensive riffs.

It’s funny? Not particularly, but co-writers Kenya Barris (who directs) and Hill must have thought it was hysterical. Otherwise, why would they repeat the comic beat over and over again?

The other note beaten to death? Ezra is so eager to please his future father-in-law, Akbar, that he lies between his teeth when he is with him.

Each. Alone. Time.

Large. Embarrassing. Easily provable lies.

Combine those two unfunny plot lines and you’ve basically sunk the movie.

Somehow, Ezra and Amira give off, if not chemistry, a sense of being lovers staring down a brutal reality. And, to Barris and Hill, interracial marriage looks like “Mission: Impossible” in 2023. Yet every other ad shows an interracial couple, so we know that’s not accurate.

Every character here, like the film itself, is progressive to the core. It’s hard to watch people mired in the misery of micro-aggression when trying to enjoy a romantic comedy.

Every fiber of Ezra apologizes for his so-called white privilege. Amira sees racism everywhere, such as when she blames him for missing a plum work assignment. People of all races, creeds, and colors miss plum missions all the time.

 In one of many cringe-worthy scenes, the couple’s respective families argue over who got worse – Jews via the Holocaust or black Americans due to slavery.

These gruesome chapters of world history are joined by considerably smaller narratives, part of the progressive mindset that Barris and Hill weave into their story. This includes an early shoutout to President Barack Obama and Ezra’s podcasting partner (Sam Jay) explaining that black people can never forgive white people for slavery.

A generous way to deal with this thought? It’s a tribute to “When Harry Met Sally” and how Harry insists that men and women can never be friends if there’s a romantic spark between them.

Unfortunately, most black characters initially dismiss Ezra and his family because of their skin color, sectarianizing the film’s imagery as casual, almost expected.

The biggest problems plaguing “you people” are easy to spot. It’s hard to develop flesh-and-blood personas when everyone is a talking point, a progressive editorial, or the signifier of a larger cultural complaint.

Other key details are simply missing.

We’re told Ezra is willing to give up his brokerage career to become a professional podcaster, but there’s little evidence that his talent is worth the risk. We never get to see why Ezra and Amira click, and the film showcases Akbar’s strong Islamic faith (he loves Reverend Louis Farrakhan!), but that important point fades over time.

The biggest sin? The film’s third act asks the audience to forget everything they’ve been told for 90 minutes to swallow it.

Barris’ film offers a fast-paced narrative and it’s impossible to look away from certain story points. “You People” is a narrative train wreck, and we’re inclined to watch disasters.


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