Simply put, the brilliantly hilarious, pertinent and wickedly clever new movie,it’s somehow a new age Guess who’s coming to dinner that historic Tracy-Hepburn-Poitier Oscar-winning comedy from 1967 about the effect an interracial relationship has on the young couple’s parents. Of course, back then it was a major social issue and even had trouble booking some theaters in the south. The idea was changed in a 2005 Bernie Mac/Ashton Kutcher remake that all those years later didn’t have quite the same impact. However, with the rise of anti-Semitism and racism in America in 2023, the concept of an interracial/interfaith marriage, black and white, Jewish and Muslim, could not be more timely or necessary, and in co-starring and director The witty script is also a laugh-out-loud riot that will knock you out of your seat. Ironically, I saw it this week at its world premiere at the same Westwood Village theater where I saw Guess who’s coming to dinner all those years ago With a full house, the laughter was so continuous and loud to Your people it was hard to hear many of the lines. When was the last time that happened?
Keep in mind that this is not a remake of that movie, or a more recent take on parents disagreeing over their children’s romantic choices, that is, Meet the parents since it marches at its own pace and has its feet firmly planted in the present, for better or for worse. It also turns out to be a glorious love letter to Los Angeles like no other movie in years.
Plotwise Hill, whose comedic timing has never been used to better effect, stars as Ezra, a blond, tattooed, highlighted, Jewish son from Brentwood who has a miserable job in finance, but has his heart set on making his “Mo And EZ”. Show”. ” podcast with a good black friend (Sam Jay). In a hilarious rideshare mix-up, he meets cute rom-com star Amira Mohammed (a luminous Lauren London), sparks eventually fly after a lunch date, and they hook up, soon moving in together. Time to meet the parents. Uh oh. First up is Ezra’s family, Shelley Cohen (), a Jewish mother from West Los Angeles who wants the best for her son and whose liberal attempts to hook up with his new girlfriend are hilariously clever and awkward (“It Will Be Wonderful to Have Black Grandchildren”). Father Arnold ( ) is a podiatrist with a talent for saying whatever comes to mind. Both are well-intentioned but completely embarrassing for Ezra, whose younger sister Liza (a perfect Molly Gordon) is more on top of the situation. On the other hand, Ezra fails to impress Amira’s father, an architect named Akbar ( ) a Muslim who wears Kufi married to Fatima (wonderful ), both disapproving of their daughter’s relationship with Ezra, who tries hard to show he understands black culture. Being told about rapper Xzibit turns out to be comedic fodder for some of the jokes that Barris and Hill provide in bulk in this culture clash.
The central dinner that brings both sets of parents together with Ezra and Amira is one for the ages, particularly when the conversation turns to Akmar’s love for Louis Farrakhan (“He’s got a great vibe,” Ezra chimes in in a cringeworthy moment). ). It sets up a series of scenes in which the young couple announce their marriage plans and realize that it is not easy to merge families with cultural, religious and racial differences today. However, deep down, Your people makes a strong case for seeing each other first and foremost as human beings inhabiting the same planet together.
Barris (creator of Black-ish, Grown-ish) makes a dazzling feature directorial debut with a crisp script he and Hill penned. There’s no fat to this at all, virtually every line lands with precision, and the two-hour comedy flies by. LA is superbly shot (Mark Doering-Powell is the cinematographer) and Barris frequently provides interstitial scenes of LA landmarks to add flavor, from Roscoes to Randy’s to Capitol Records and much more.
Hill’s return to full-throated comedy is welcome and knocks it out of the park here, the Sidney Poitier as if he were Murphy’s Spencer Tracy. Murphy never seems to get old and here he has one of the best cinematic outings of him in recent years, subtly playing a proud father who believes he knows what’s best for everyone, and that would be not be Ezra. He continues to show why he has been a star all these years. Louis-Dreyfus is a hoot throughout, a spirited liberal who really has no idea what she’s saying. Duchovny suddenly going to the piano to sing a John Legend song for his black guests is worth the price of admission. Among others in the cast, Mike Epps proves to be a scene-stealer as Uncle EJ, and Elliot Gould, Rhea Perlman, Anthony Anderson, and Richard Benjamin, among others, briefly appear and disappear, the latter in an amusing cameo as a Jewish doctor asking embarrassing questions to his patients after the temple.
2023 may be young, but I can guarantee there won’t be a funnier, and in many ways, more important movie all year. If there is, a great year awaits us in the cinema. The producers are Barris, Hill and Kevin Misher. Netflix opens it in select theaters today and begins streaming on January 27.