Kenya Barris-directed You People sheds light on the clashes and differences that a modern-day interracial relationship @entails
Last Updated: 06.42 AM, May 16, 2023
STORY: A matured, loving and compatible mixed race couple jeopardise their own happiness and peace of mind after they decide to involve their families in the relationship. What follows next is something that can be described as clashing cultures and generational differences.
Watch the trailer here
REVIEW: Anxiety and discord seem to be the primary themes that interweave this ‘buddy comedy’ film that revolves around this modern-day couple - a ‘white’ Jewish American man Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill) and a ‘black’ African-American Muslim woman Amira Mohammed (Lauren London). In their mid-30s and after looking around for several years trying to find someone who would truly understand them, Ezra and Amira’s paths have finally crossed and they are together now. No, they don’t rush into things and give one another the time and space for the relationship to evolve and develop. They are loving, compatible, and somewhat ready to take things to the next level. So after dating for six months, they decide to meet each other’s family.
The problem begins there. Ezra’s mother Shelley Cohen (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is practically ‘tone-deaf’, who thinks she is speaking sense and is the most sociable person in the room, but more often than not she comes across as the most insensitive person around. On the other hand, Amira’s father Akbar Mohammed (Eddie Murphy) has made it the mission of his life to rip apart Ezra’s reputation each time they meet. Whatsoever, the two families try to give it a shot and catch up for dinner. But in no time, discussions over holocaust, black history and a very sentimental kufi turn everything unpleasant. Despite the oddities and their parents’ ‘eccentric’ behaviour, Ezra and Amira try their best to navigate the differences and work things around what’s coming across as a difficult interracial relationship.
Along the way, we also meet Amira’s mother Fatima Mohammed (Nia Long) and Ezra’s father Arnold Cohen (David Duchovny). Ezra’s sister Liza Cohen (Molly Gordon) is a lesbian, and that’s all about her characterisation, while Amira’s brother Omar Mohammed (Taco) basically just tags along throughout the film. Mo (Sam Jay), Ezra’s closest friend and fellow podcaster, believes that interracial relationships are a myth, because when it comes to ‘black’ and ‘white’ people, love is not enough. There are just too many other factors at play here.
While the story has its heart in the right place, the narrative remains too formulaic throughout. Mentions like ‘LGBTQIA+’, ‘police brutality’ and ‘grandmother’s holocaust ring’ are peppered so casually that they seem to be said in bad taste. Julia as the mother of Jonah’s 35-year-old character in the film doesn’t seem very convincing, while it becomes difficult to put a finger on what David is doing in the family.
VERDICT: Ezra and Amira do make a cute mixed race couple, and there’s a lot to learn from their dedication toward each other as well as their families. But that just isn’t enough to keep your focus on the plot, which becomes too predictable too soon. The script lacks depth and a nuanced approach in terms of fleshing out the characters. There’s a serious lack of humour, which, after a point, makes you disinterested in the film. Despite having a starry ensemble cast, Kenya Barris-directed You People fails to make an impression. You can skip it if you want.