Directed by Kenya Barris.
Starring Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lauren London, David Duchovny, Nia Long, Sam Jay, Molly Gordon, Travis Bennett, Andrea Savage, Rhea Perlman, La La Anthony, Deon Cole, Emily Arlook, Andrew Schulz, Bryan Greenberg, Jordan Firstman, Elliott Gould, Mike Epps, Yung Miami, Khadijah Haqq McCray, Matt Walsh, Hal Linden, Winnie Holzman, Richard Benjamin, Doug Hall, Nelson Franklin, Rob Huebel, Murray Gray and Pason.
Follows a new couple and their families as they grapple with modern love and family dynamics amidst conflicting cultures, societal expectations, and generational differences.
In Kenya Barris’ You guys, Ezra (Jonah Hill) and Black Podcasting partner Mo (Sam Jay) talk about everything from sports to culture to current affairs. They share similar beliefs despite coming from different backgrounds, suggesting that white and black people can coexist, although Ezra will never fully understand some of these issues. In one of the few funny scenes here, these racial ties are equated with adultery, with blacks still hurt.
Ezra is also lonely and looking for a romantic connection, and he stumbles into a disastrous first encounter with costume designer Amira (Lauren London), during which he gets into the back of her car, mistakenly assuming it’s his regular Uber driver , what happened randomly exactly how they look. The scene is a scream that makes the initial promise that Kenya Barris (who also writes alongside Jonah Hill, with the latter writing dialogue that not only plays to his strengths as a comedian, but at one point feels like dialogue ripped from one of his other films and remixed ) consistently manages to place these characters in amusingly terrifying scenarios that deal with race relations in the modern world.
Six months later, Ezra and Amira are in a healthy relationship and, like his friendship with Mo, experience no obstacles to being an interracial couple. Instead, these problems arise when it comes time to meet the parents. In this case You guys spirals into aggravating comedy with a joke that repeats itself ad nauseam while just changing places in LA.
Eddie Murphy plays Akbar, a Muslim with traditional values who would prefer Amira to stick to her culture when it comes to the dating pool. Then there’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Ezra’s mother, Shelley, proud of her Jewish heritage and pleasantly open to the idea of her son possibly marrying a black woman, but completely deaf when it comes to expressing her well-meaning progressive views (she is glad her family is expanding in color and ecstatically claims this is the future.)
if You guys had been more willing to explore this new dynamic in the Guess who’s coming to dinner Formula might have had a chance instead of sinking into repetitive, crunching chaos. It’s more about all of these characters kicking ass every five minutes — which eventually leads to Ezra and Amira at odds over the forced writing — rather than dishing out harsh social comments. There’s a dinner sequence where everything goes to hell in a basket when an argument breaks out between the Jews with the Holocaust and the blacks with slavery, but the script doesn’t really care about those conversations or use them to expand the characters.
Yes, this is comedy first and foremost, but it also desperately wants to call itself a sharp, modern satire on race relations and how they affect modern interracial relationships. These aspects start out charming; Jonah Hill’s comedic performance continues to be fantastic, and his scenes alongside Eddie Murphy (who copes in the strict, sabotaging parenting role, although it feels disappointing like he doesn’t have much to do) where he morphs into a frightened, awkward one buffoon are funny too. However, they quickly wear out their welcome once everything devolves into a cartoon with no characters that feel real or act rationally (I don’t even think that after six months of dating, Ezra and Amira would suddenly need to start questioning their beliefs about interracial marriages , just because both sets of parents are a walking nightmare, especially when they’re all together.)
None of this is the worst, because after all You guys takes the standard romance-comedy clichés in an over-dramatic way that just doesn’t work considering how ridiculous it all was. Nothing about his conclusion feels sincere or characterful, just the point where Kenya Barris ran out of ideas to expand on that single joke and simply decided to end it. At 118 minutes, it’s unforgivable that he thinks his lone wit is enough to be mined and wasted a stacked ensemble in that runtime.
Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]