‘You People’ overview: Kenya Barris’ rewarding-ish comedy
Having efficiently cornered the TV market along with his acerbic model of culturally astute satire, richly on show in “black-ish” and “grown-ish,” it’s good to see writer-director Kenya Barris taking his confirmed model to the feature-length enviornment within the type of “You People” with equally rewarding outcomes.
For whereas the Netflix movie, a well timed riff on “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” pulls no punches on the subject of calling out hypocrisy and different inconvenient societal truths and boasts a comic book dream forged together with Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it will definitely succumbs to the very romantic-comedy conventions it appeared intent on subverting.
The L.A.-centric script was co-written with Jonah Hill, who performs bleached-blond Ezra “E-Z” Cohen, a Brentwood-raised millennial who works in finance however whose coronary heart is within the quip-heavy, hip-hop-infused sports activities and trend podcast he does along with his finest buddy, Mo (comic Sam Jay).
Future steps up when Ezra hops into the again seat of a automotive pushed by Amira Mohammed (terrific Lauren London), a self-possessed clothes designer from Baldwin Hills whom he has mistaken for his rideshare driver.
After the awkward begin, the 2 embark on a cute, playful relationship that manages to search out an ethnically cozy center floor.
It’s when the time comes to fulfill the mother and father that issues get messy.
Whereas Ezra’s well-meaning however cringe-inducing progressive mother, Shelley (a pitch-perfect Louis-Dreyfus), welcomes the prospect of changing into a “family of color” and prides herself on having all the time hated “Gone With the Wind” method earlier than “we were supposed to,” dad Arnold (David Duchovny) insists on serenading Amira with a extremely dangerous rendition of John Legend’s “Ordinary People.”
Ezra, in the meantime, will get his personal flip to squirm when he’s icily interrogated by Amira’s stern dad, Akbar (Murphy), a proud, kufi-wearing Muslim who’d prefer to know if the younger man hangs out within the ‘hood all the time or does he “just come up here for our food and our women?”
As their families continue to play interference, Ezra and Amira’s simple rapport in the end arrives at a difficult deadlock, as, alas, does the screenplay.
Already having performed all of the inherent race playing cards to pointedly humorous impact, the movie strains to reach at a predictably tidy, audience-pleasing decision even after the principle characters have decided in any other case, undercutting that winningly satirical chew.
It’s an edge that’s additionally inherent in a vibrant visible fashion that very a lot features as a love letter to Los Angeles — one that features such underutilized native landmarks as Baldwin Hills’ sunny Merely Healthful eatery, Malibu’s Calamigos Ranch and the venerable Magnificent Brothers barbershop in Leimert Park.
And whenever you’ve obtained a recreation forged that additionally occurs to incorporate Nia Lengthy taking part in Amira’s equally judgmental mom, Molly Gordon as Ezra’s solely barely extra self-aware homosexual sister and a parade of cameos from the likes of Rhea Perlman, Elliott Gould, Mike Epps, Hal Linden, Anthony Anderson and Richard Benjamin, it’s a golden alternative to interrupt down these partitions of rom-com conventionality.
As a substitute, “You People” busts out of the gate with the lit, razor-sharp zip of a “Dear White People” solely to limp throughout the end line with all the sting of Up With People.
Rated: R, for language all through, some sexual materials and drug content material
Operating time: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Enjoying: iPic, Westwood; accessible Jan. 27 on Netflix