Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus steal the show in dramedy ‘You People’


Jonah Hill, left, and Lauren London in “You People.” (Netflix/TNS)

By Tyler D'Errico , Contributor

The name Jonah Hill conjures a very specific image in the minds of many Americans. From “Superbad” to “Knocked Up” and “21 Jump Street,” Hill has made a career in lowbrow comedies. Romantic dramedy “You People,” which premiered on Netflix on Jan. 27, represents a change for Hill, but it is Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who anchor this incisive look at race in America.

Hill’s character, Ezra Cohen, is your typical rom-com lead. He has a day job as a broker, but secretly yearns to be a podcaster. He wants to be in a relationship, much to his friend and co-host Mo’s, played by Sam Jay, chagrin (as she points out in a scene with way too many Drake references), but can’t seem to find one.

That is, until a “23andMe” situation leads him to the Mini Cooper of costume designer Amira Mohammad, played by Lauren London.

With romantic comedies, it’s not always about the script as much as it is about the pairing. Going with an unknown is always a risk, especially opposite a big draw like Hill, but London holds her own as Amira. Her and Ezra’s chemistry is palpable, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when familial differences separate them on the eve of their wedding day.

As Ezra’s mom, Shelley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes an impression from the get-go. If, like me, you’re a fan of “Friends,” you know that someone misusing air quotes is classic comedy.

Shelley’s gaffes get worse throughout the film, ranging from a slightly-risqué misheard lyric in Andra Day’s “Rise Up” to an embarrassing guess during a game of Hangman, until they finally boil over at the rehearsal dinner.

Eddie Murphy’s character, Akbar, is the opposite of Shelley. While Shelley’s comments come from a good place, Akbar is actively trying to keep Ezra from dating his daughter, even going so far as to hijack his bachelor party.

As someone who still refers to songs as “records,” you could say that Akbar is set in his ways. When he sees Ezra’s chosen friends, or as he calls them, “degenerates,” engaging in illegal activity, this only reinforces his beliefs.

“You People” is mostly a comedy, but takes a sharp left turn into dramatic territory near the end. While reviews of the film were largely critical of this, I actually think that this pivot helps sell the seriousness of the plot more. If this was just a lighthearted comedy the whole time, I don’t think it would’ve been quite the same.

There are some hilarious scenes in “You People.” One particular one that comes to mind is when Ezra repeatedly messes up a greeting with his boss (played by Matt Walsh). I also quite enjoyed the scene with Ezra and Akbar in the car, vibing while Akbar fantasizes about a hypothetical trip to France.

The rest of the supporting cast is also solid. Molly Gordon is underused as Liza, with only one scene showcasing her comedic talents opposite of Hill, while David Duchovny gets a few laughs as the Xzibit-obsessed Cohen patriarch Arnold.

Overall, “You People” is a timely look at an America that is more divided than ever. It’s also smart and irreverent, which is a killer combination.