‘You People’ Traffics In Progressive Guilt, Lack of Laughter

Eddie Murphy’s strong turn can’t bring joy to dispiriting culture clash comedy

Some modern movies wallow in woke bromides. Others have a progressive lecture or two, but otherwise offer straightforward stories.

And then there’s “You People.”

The film doesn’t flirt with woke asides or stop for Important Lessons on Race or the 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 not enough, sadly, even with Eddie Murphy showing he hasn’t lost an ounce of his comic brio.

You People | feat. Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill | Official Teaser | Netflix

Jonah Hill stars as Ezra, a 30-something Jewish man whose dating life has hit a rough spot. No one seems to “get” him, and even the women who seem like prime dating material can’t make his heart flutter.

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

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

“We’re gonna have brown grandchildren,” Louis-Dreyfus’s character squeals.

Cultures clash and Ezra’s parents behave like the most ignorant liberals on Planet Earth. A prime example? Duchovny’s character can’t stop genuflecting at the altar of the rapper Xzibit. Because he’s black, you see, and so is Amira. Get it? Does anyone actually think like this?

That’s just one of many problems plaguing “You People.”

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

Is it funny? Not particularly, but co-writers Kenya Barris (who directs) and Hill must have thought it’s fall-down hysterical. Why else 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 through his teeth when he’s with him.

Every. Single. Time.

Big. Embarrassing. Easily provable lies.

Combine these two unfunny plot lines and you’ve essentially sunk the film.

Somehow, Ezra and Amira exude, if not chemistry, the sense that they’re lovers staring down a brutal reality. And, in the eyes of Barris and Hill, interracial marriage seems like “Mission: Impossible” in 2023. Yet every other commercial shows an interracial couple, so we know that’s not accurate.

Every character here, like the movie itself, is progressive to the core. It’s hard to watch people mired in microaggression misery when you’re trying to enjoy a rom-com.

Ezra’s every fiber apologizes for his so-called white privilege. Amira sees racism everywhere, like when she blames it for missing a plum work assignment. People of every race, creed and color miss out on plum assignments all the time.


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

Those awful chapters in world history are joined by dramatically smaller narratives, part of the progressive mindset that Barris and Hill drill into their story. That includes an early shout out to President Barack Obama and Ezra’s podcaster partner (Sam Jay) explaining that black people can never forgive whites for slavery.

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

Sadly, most of the black characters initially dismiss Ezra and his family because of their skin color, bigotry the film frames as casual, almost expected.

The bigger issues plaguing “You People” are easy to spot. It’s hard to develop flesh and blood characters when everyone is a talking point, a progressive op-ed or signifier of a larger cultural complaint.

Other key details are simply missing.

We’re told Ezra is willing to throw away his staid career as a broker to become a professional podcaster, but there’s little proof his talent is worth the risk. We never get to see why Ezra and Amira click, and the film introduces Akbar’s strong Islamic faith (he loves the Rev. Louis Farrakhan!) but that bullet point fades over time.

The biggest sin? The film’s third act requires audiences to forget everything they were told for 90 minutes in order to swallow it.

Barris’ film does offer a briskly paced narrative, and it’s impossible to look away at select points in the story. “You People” is a narrative train wreck, and we’re inclined to stare at disasters.

HiT or Miss: “You People” begins with a strong premise along with some solid laughs. In short order the laughs dry up and the concept hits a thematic iceberg.


  1. @JimmyC

    According to anaylis site Samba, the debut of “You People” was watched by 2.8 million households. That’s the best debut for a Netflix film so far in 2023.

    Clearly, lots of people liked it. So, “go woke, go broke” doesn’t apply here.

  2. Of course it’s just barely possible that this is a spoof of lefties and wokism by showing their nonsense at work, but probably not. Also, treatment of Jews and their beliefs was despicable, and Jonas saying Jesus was 1/2 black and 1/2 Jewish displays his total lack of knowledge of (what was once before abandonment) his religion and heritage – since when is being Jewish a race, you are either Jewish or not, you are either black or not, no contradiction between being 100% Jewish and 100% black (talk to the about 200,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel, very Jewish and very black.

  3. Good review. I suffered through this movie and they tried to handle issues, but couldn’t get past their “progressive” tongue-wagging. The only scene I thought was well written was Eddie Murphy’s apology – Julia’s character’s apology was terribly done.

    Very astute observation, Shawn, that the white characters were set-ups for the black characters’ diatribes. That get’s old pretty quickly. Jonah’s podcaster partner’s slavery dissertation was non-sensical and I thought – do people really think this way nowadays – people who have never been slaves, never owned a slave, never knew a slave, never knew a slave owner? Just when you think it is safe to get out of the slave mindset, “those people” drag you back down.

    I hoped for the best, but was bored out of my mind – the chemistry between the leads just wasn’t quite there. I’m glad they attempted this, but back to the drawing board – maybe this time with a more well rounded panel of cultural apologists.

  4. From the review: “Duchovny’s character can’t stop genuflecting at the altar of the rapper Xzibit. Because he’s black, you see, and so is Amira. Get it? Does anyone actually think like this?”

    How can you watch and then review this movie with this cast and then ask THAT question? I am pretty sure we all know lots of people who think like this. Group identity — attributing currently useful narrative features of any member of a group from any time to every member of the group today (“believe all women” “you have white privilege” “your people committed genocide against my people”) — is the cornerstone of multi- trillion dollar rackets like affirmative action and intersectionalism.

  5. I sat through this because I love Eddie Murphy. First off, he doesn’t make his first appearance until about 30 minutes in. And I didn’t laugh once during that time. Once he finally came on-screen, I thought “Okay, now the laughs will kick in.” But no. Eddie did his best with the material he had, but the writing was nothing but straight up tried and true woke BS. Basically other sentence out of a character’s mouth was some form of woke politically correct lecture. It simply wasn’t funny. They were so desperate for laughs that they put Jonah Hill in a tie-dyed sweat suit, as if that was supposed to be somehow funny as opposed to just a lame white guy trying to dress in hip-hop fashion. As an example of how everything turned into a woke lecture, there’s the scene where both families are meeting with wedding planners. One wedding planner says she was thinking of going with an “old Hollywood” theme for the wedding. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, who was playing Jonah Hill’s mom, squeals in delight and says “I love old Hollywood. I loved that idea.” To which Eddie Murphy’s character responds “So you like the time period when black actors weren’t allowed to stay in the same hotel with white actors.” Seriously. NEARLY EVERY SINGLE TIME a white character opened their mouth, it was basically to set up some diatribe from one of the black characters on screen about the evils of “whitey.” Even when the two main characters (Jonah Hill and his fiance to be) meet, it’s a lecture on racism because he mistakes her for his Uber driver he’s waiting on. She accuses him of being racist because “oh, so we all look alike,” and when he shows her a picture of his Uber driver who actually DOES look a lot like her, she doesn’t even really apologize.
    The above review is pretty spot on, though I do disagree in that I didn’t find any real laughs in the movie at all. I really dug Black-ish when it first came out, so was expecting a bit better out of Kenya Barris, but I guess he’s been infected by the woke mind virus along with JOnah Hill. If you’re “woke,” you’ll love all the “whitey bad” diatribes in there, but if you’re not “woke,” you’ll find this boring and damned unfunny, which is a bit of a sin in my opinion, since it wastes so many good comedic actors.

  6. Woke movies always fail with audiences, but Hollywood would never dream of changing course, so now they’re trying to repackage them as comedy. The problem is, this stuff isn’t funny, it’s bitter and divisive. You can make fun OF it, but you can’t make it funny.

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