Eddie Murphy’s Controversial New Comedy Is Top Of The Charts On Netflix
You People, Eddie Murphy's new movie with Jonah Hill, is in the top five most-watched movies on Netflix.
Eddie Murphy has been one of the juggernauts of comedy since he joined Saturday Night Live all the way back in 1980 and while he has occasionally dabbled in other genres, he keeps coming back to the laughs. His most recent film, You People, is about 80% comedy with a large heap of social critique and drama, a Jonah Hill love story, plus David Duchovny as a clueless dad with a fixation on early 2000s rapper Xzibit. As one might expect from that combination, this new Eddie Murphy Murphy movie is currently in the top five most-watched movies on all of Netflix.
You People stars Jonah Hill (who co-wrote the film with director Kenya Barris) as Ezra, a privileged Jewish Los Angeleno who feels more comfortable relating to Black culture than his own. The movie begins in earnest as Ezra bumps into Amira (Lauren London) a Black Muslim fashion designer in a classic meet-cute, which is to say, he mistakes her for his Uber drive and she calls him out for thinking all Black people look the same. The clash between White (and Jewish) and Black (and Muslim) culture really kick up when the two get engaged and Amira’s father, a devout member of the Nation of Islam named Akbar (Eddie Murphy) gets in the mix.
Although You People has some aspirations toward being a modernized take on both Romeo and Juliet and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the romance plot is really more of a device to get Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy together in a room. The bulk of the movie is spent with a surprisingly restrained Eddie Murphy disapprovingly glowering at a meek Jonah Hill, trying to get him to say a certain racial epithet in the context of a song title or attempting to embarrass him at a pick-up game of basketball. More often than not, the pair has a certain cringe-y chemistry, which is more than can be said for Jonah Hill and Lauren London, who never seem to click as a couple.
Where You People truly shines is when the entirety of Ezra and Amira’s families get together, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny squaring off against Eddie Murphy and Nia Long in the awkwardness sweepstakes. To be fair, most of the cringe is generated by the Seinfeld star’s unmatched ability to mine social awkwardness out of any situation and by Duchovy, who emerges as the secret weapon of the movie. Whether the X-Files star is reading Xzibit’s Wikipedia page aloud as a toast or performing a tone-deaf (in multiple senses) version of John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” You People never has more energy than when he all-too-briefly takes center stage.
In truth, You People seems to have been produced entirely on the idea that Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy will play off against each other well. When the movie is trying to be funny by having Murphy toss Hill into a barbershop or stare him down as his drunken friends insist that he has a cocaine hookup, it works okay. When it tries to be something more nuanced than that, not so much.