Film & TV

Film Review: ‘You People’: Excruciating But Funny Comedy about Race Relations in America

BY Mark Jackson TIMEFebruary 5, 2023 PRINT

R | 1h 57m | Comedy | January 27, 2023

Note: The trailer might not be appropriate for young viewers.

“Black-ish” writer Kenya Barris directs “You People,” (co-written by Jonah Hill), which stars Hill and Lauren London as an engaged couple whose Jewish and Muslim-African-American parents can’t get over their differences and self-centeredly throw a monkey-wrench into the love between their children. It’s reminiscent of some the humorous cultural racial squabbling that used to go on in Woody Allen movies.

The “disapproving in-laws” rom-com plotline has been around forever; the update here is that Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill) is Jewish, from West Los Angeles, and Amira Mohammed (Lauren London) is black and from Compton, California. In light of Kanye West’s recent glass-raising to Hitler on Alex Jones’s show, a Black-Jewish rom-com feels timely.

Meet Cute

Ezra, thinking he’s catching an Uber, gets in the back of the pulled-over car Amira’s driving (she’s checking directions). After a brief squabble, the two find themselves unexpectedly connecting over a shared love of shoes and music.

Ezra dreams of one day quitting his mind-numbing finance job and going full time with his passion, co-hosting his podcast about, of all things, black culture, with his black lesbian partner Mo (Sam Jay). Howard University grad Amira is a set designer.

 man and woman at table in YOU PEOPLE
Ezra (Jonah Hill) and Mo (Sam Jay) have a podcast about black culture in America, in “You People.” (Netflix)

They fall in love, plan to marry, and then their relationship is severely put to the test by Amira’s disapproving parents (Eddie Murphy, Nia Long) and Ezra’s semi-woke, progressive parents (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Duchovny) who, between the four of them, throw every permutation and combination of every Muslim-Jewish politically incorrect faux pas and cringe-worthy uttering into the air like a deck of cards. And it’s definitely cringe-worthy. And quite funny.

Ezra (Jonah Hill) and his mom Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) have a talk about her trying too hard to be culturally hip and being annoying, in “You People.” (Netflix)

For example, Ezra tells Amira a story about the engagement ring he gives her, to explain its size, saying it was his grandmother’s from the Holocaust (he’s coached on this by partner Mo). Amira, with raised eyebrow, wonders about the timeline involved, which leads Ezra to joke that his grandmother was engaged when she was “three or four years old. … It was a different time.”

man and woman walking in YOU PEOPLE
Ezra (Jonah Hill) and girlfriend Amira (Lauren London) go for a walk, in “You People.” (Netflix)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

The parents eventually meet for a communal dinner; silly culture clash things go on. Akbar (Murphy) proudly shows off the kufi gifted to him by Louis Farrakhan, whom Ezra’s mom (Julia Louis Dreyfus) hates, and who manages to fumble around and light said kufi on fire with a candle. It’s a mistake. But still. The seething! The eye-rolling! And Ezra’s running around with his eyes bugging out in horror, trying to put out the foot-in-mouth brush fires springing up everywhere, but only managing to sprinkle verbal gasoline on them.

(L–R) Arnold (David Duchovny), Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Ezra (Jonah Hill), Amira (Lauren London), Akbar (Eddie Murphy), and Fatima (Nia Long), in “You People.” (Netflix)

For example, Ezra describes his podcast as being about “The Culture,” to which Akbar replies, “‘The Culture? Really? You’re just gonna take the word ‘Black’ out of there?”

Later, Akbar, attempts to “bond” with Ezra, which is a thinly veiled attempt to sabotage Ezra’s reputation: from taking a clueless, red-hoodie-wearing Ezra to a barbershop run by Crip gang members (who favor blue), to forcing Ezra to explain why he loves a Kanye West song about Paris featuring the N-word,  to setting up a street basketball game for Ezra to demonstrate that he’s got game. During the latter, Akbar’s in for a fun surprise.

man in black and man in red in YOU PEOPLE
Akbar (Eddie Murphy, L) and Ezra (Jonah Hill) get ready to play some basketball, in “You People.” (Netflix)


All rom-coms have the couple in question having a spat as a lead-up to the big reconciliation scene. This one’s triggered by Amira noticing Ezra’s sneakers left under her bed. That’s fairly lame, but okay.

In general, “You People” should be a bigger deal. Movies today are so underpromoted due to their new homes on TV, that a movie starring Eddie Murphy, Jonah Hill, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss ends up having an extremely low profile. And by association, the movies suffer from the perception that they’re perhaps not particularly worthwhile. The Rotten Tomatoes score is a rather shocking 42-percent – 38-percent.

Netflix’s ad copy describes “You People” as “an edgy comedy,” and while “You People” is fairly polite considering its subject matter, Kenya Barris and Jonah Hill have found a way to address a large swath of America’s racial and cultural minefield in a manner that will make you laugh out loud, yet make you stop and think for a second. That’s good stuff.

Movie poster for "You People." (Netflix)
Movie poster for “You People.” (Netflix)

‘You People’
Director: Kenya Barris
Starring: Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nia Long, David Duchovny, Lauren London, Sam Jay, Rhea Perlman, Elliot Gould
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Release Date: Jan. 27, 2023
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Mark Jackson
Film Critic
Mark Jackson is the senior film critic for The Epoch Times. Mark has 20 years' experience as a professional New York actor, classical theater training, and a BA in philosophy. He recently narrated the Epoch Times audiobook “How the Specter of Communism is Ruling Our World,” and has a Rotten Tomatoes author page.
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