‘You People’ is Netflix’s newest tone deaf romantic comedy


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Aug 06, 2023

‘You People’ is Netflix’s newest tone deaf romantic comedy

The film was co-written by Jonah Hill and Kenya Barris, creator of “blackish.”

The film was co-written by Jonah Hill and Kenya Barris, creator of "blackish."

By Eli Engler - February 16, 2023

Netflix's newest romantic comedy, "You People," was released on Jan. 27 and was directed by "black-ish" creator Kenya Barris. The film was written by Barris and Jonah Hill, who also co-stars as one of the romantic leads along with Lauren London. The film has an all-star supporting cast including Julia Louis-Dreyfous, Eddie Murphy, David Duchovny and Nia Long.

The premise of the film is that Hill and London, a white Jew and a Black Muslim, fall in love, but their cultural differences and familial issues drive a wedge in their relationship. The main forces that repel the two are Hill's mother and London's father, played by Louis-Dreyfous and Murphy. Louis-Dreyfous’ character fetishizes London and treats her like a toy, while Murphy refuses to accept that Hill will ever be good enough for his daughter because he is white.

Barris and Hill make a solid writing team, for the most part, as they craft clever humor that threads the film together. One of the best scenes occurs at the beginning of the film, as Hill and his family attend synagogue services for Yom Kippur. The scene depicts the awkward situation of Hill going to services despite having lost touch with his Jewish roots. From forgetting his yarmulke to his mom trying to set him up with a Jewish woman, the scene is a hilariously accurate depiction of a modern Jewish family that covers all of the spirituality spectra.

Similarly, Murphy and Hill also have some excellent scenes together. Perhaps their best is when Murphy tricks Hill into playing pick-up basketball and Hill rises to the challenge by actually playing well. Murphy starts to record Hill as he plays but quickly stops when he realizes that Hill is actually better than he thought he was. Another funny scene occurs when Hill and Murphy first meet, as Hill is overly chatty and peppy when trying to impress the unimpressed Murphy.

The glue of any romantic comedy is the chemistry between the two leads and unfortunately, "You People" falls flat in that area. While Hill and London are both good actors, their relationship does not feel believable because the two characters lack the natural spark that shines in great romantic comedies. If anything, the most satisfying part of the film is when the two inevitably break up at the climax of the film due to their familial differences, although this break up hardly lasts. The ending feels unearned, both due to the lack of a romantic spark and resolution to the actual issues with their parents.

The film attempts to address the issue of interracial relationships and multicultural families. While this may have been a progressive film if it had been made in the 1960s, interracial relationships and marriages have been legal in the United States for over 50 years and are not the hot-button issue that they used to be. It feels as though "You People" wants to have been released in a climate where interracial couples are not accepted, but 2020s Los Angeles is not the right setting for that type of story.

Furthermore, the film feels outdated and tone-deaf when it comes to the issue of anti-Semitism. It is particularly on display in a scene where Hill, London and their parents are having dinner together for the first time. The controversial Black religious leader Louis Farrakhan comes up in conversation, and Louis-Dreyfus’ character brings up his anti-Semitic rhetoric. The film ignores the fact that Murphy's character supports the infamous anti-Semite, and he even doubles down by saying that the Jewish population is doing pretty well now, minimizing the impacts of the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people over the course of history.

While it is important to depict anti-Semitic characters on screen so that viewers can see how this thinking and rhetoric is dangerous, "You People" fails to adequately refute these ideas and instead promotes them through Murphy's character. It is incredibly frustrating that Murphy is never punished for his views and instead gets an unearned redemption arc without having to apologize for his anti-Semitic comments.

In totality, "You People" has its ups and downs as a film. The comedy is spot on and generates hefty laughs for most of its runtime, mostly due to the heavy lifting of Hill. However, the comedy is not enough to save the film from its disastrous anti-Semitism and reverse chemistry of the lead couple. "You People" tries to say something about interracial couples in the modern era, but adds nothing new to an oversaturated conversation.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars



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