A Modern Culture Clash And A Mildly Charming Romantic Comedy

“You People” has a number of solid if familiar-seeming comic setups: the awkwardness of the first joint family dinner, the squirm-inducing scene where Ezra tries to get Amira’s parents’ blessing for proposing marriage, a scene where Amira’s dad worms his way into Ezra’s bachelor party, etc. Where “You People” sometimes struggles is in its payoffs. The setups are all solid, and the performers are engaged enough with the material. But too often, the setups lead nowhere. One early example comes when Amira reveals that she hasn’t told her parents that her new boyfriend is White, even suggesting that he’s Muslim to appease her father; the next time we see her dad, he’s meeting Ezra at lunch, with nary a word about how his daughter misled him. And during that joint family dinner, when Amira’s parents explain their affinity for Minister Louis Farrakhan, Ezra’s mother is able to briefly note her awareness of his comments about Jewish people (in a way that makes it very clear she can’t stand the man), before the scene veers elsewhere.

“You People” is, at its core, still a romantic comedy. This is, perhaps, a certain way to say that the film veers towards the predictable more than anything else. There are tense moments for Ezra and Amira, ones in which it becomes clear that their romance may be rent asunder by their parents. But whatever satiric bent Hill and Barris may have as writers, they’re not able to avoid the predictability of where just about all romantic comedies wind up. That “You People” is familiar in that sense isn’t automatically a bad thing, but so often, the film feels like it’s tip-toeing to the edge of something sharper and more realistic before backing into something akin to a riff from a Judd Apatow movie, as when Ezra and Amira are met with dueling wedding planners, one played by Cole proposing a “Tron”-themed ceremony.

From its title to aspects of its production, you get the sense that “You People” toys with the idea of being as spiky and feisty as some of its scenes. Relative to some other Netflix Originals, as well as some other recent romantic comedies, this movie has some pretty solid laughs. But there are a number of moments in this new film where the script backs away from being more provocative or difficult. It’s a shame too because the cast (Hill included) seem able and willing even if the material doesn’t always want to take the same plunge.

/Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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