Meh, it’s ok.
But honestly, when I first heard about it, I wanted to love it, given the cast of famously funny people, but I’ll give it a solid C. Not a total waste of time but not something I’d rush to watch again either.
Let’s get to the review.
In a modern re-telling of Sidney Poitier’s classic film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” Jonah Hill plays Ezra, a stockbroker who hates his job and yearns to podcast full time with his buddy Mo (Sam Jay.) An Uber mishap brings him together with Amira (Lauren London) and the duo fall in love.
Six months later, the kids are ready to get married but alas, they have to navigate the waters filled with their wacky in-laws. Sounds like a typical rom-com in which the protagonist couple is getting married.
Eh, but then the waters get choppy. Julia Louis Dreyfus, she of Elaine on Seinfeld fame, plays Ezra’s mother as a walking, talking, living parody of liberal white guilt, constantly showing off her perspective African American daughter in law to friends and family as though she has won a “See?! My Black Daughter in Law is Total Proof that I’m Not Racist!” trophy. Ezra’s Dad, played by David Duchovny, he of X-Files fame, attempts politeness only to drone on and on in his first meeting with Amara about what a fan he has always been of the rapper Xzibit, culminating in him cluelessly asking if she has ever met him.
Meanwhile, Amara’s parents, Akbar and Fatima (Eddie Murphy and Nia Long) are devout Muslims and no fans of Ezra. They are, however, huge fans of Louis Farrakhan, culminating in a clash with Julia over Farrakhan’s controversial remarks about the Jewish people. I think this scene was intended to be funny but it is a bit cringe, IMO. Akbar later invites Ezra on a series of escapades designed to trip him up and prove his lack of worth as a future husband and son-in-law.
The shenanigans culminate in the happy couple splitting up, deciding that their cultural differences are too great to get around. Somehow, it’s up to Julia and Eddie to come together and find a wake to fix what they broke with their parental meddling and make their kids happy again.
On one hand, there are some good messages. The first is a tale as old as time in many a flick, namely, that at some point in your adult life, if you’re ever going to become an adult yourself, you have to tell your meddling parents to stick a cork in it and back off. This could have been a chance for the film to show how despite our cultural differences, parents trying to run their kids’ lives well into the kids’ adulthood often occurs. Parents of all different backgrounds love their kids, think they know what the right path is for their kids, but don’t always understand what their kids are going through, what their kids want, that sometimes they just need to chill out and if they are right and the kid is indeed making a mistake, then the kid needs to fall flat on their face and pick him/herself up and learn the lesson on their own. Then again, maybe what they are doing is the right move for them even if it isn’t what makes the parent happy.
On the other hand, the film takes the Netflixian hype woke approach of demanding that everyone be constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY aware of racial differences at every turn. And look, I’m not saying that such awareness is a bad thing. It’s a good thing but holy smokes, I spent the whole film waiting for the part where the Ezra’s and Amari’s fams figure out that they’re more alike than they are different, that they all just want the best for their kids, that the more time they spend together, the more they’ll start to trust and respect one another.
Maybe I just didn’t get it but the film almost comes across as arguing that interracial marriage sets up such a difficult minefield – that the black half of the couple must keep their head on a swivel, constantly on the lookout for oppression from their white love interest, and said white half of the couple must constantly walk on eggshells, as any comment, any mistake, any foot in mouth moment will be taken as a horrendous offense, as if black people aren’t able to tell the difference between true racism and someone who said something boneheaded but they still love them.
In other words, it almost comes across as saying that interracial marriages are too much work, too filled with hostility, destined to fail because neither side could ever possibly understand the other. Honestly, I can’t say I understand that because I’ve never been in a racial marriage but of all the interracial couples I know, I don’t get the impression that they spend all day tip toing around with their words, making sure the other understands that their words and actions should not be misconstrued as racial offenses. They just seem to love, respect and get each other, as all healthy, happy couples do.
SIDENOTE: Eddie Murphy, one of the GOATS of comedy, in a role where he barely cracks a smile and is given nary a funny line. Julia Louis Dreyfus, one of the greatest sitcom funny ladies of the 1990s also in an unfunny role. Jonah Hill, one of the funnier actors in modern times…so many funny people in a movie that’s about as funny as watching paint dry.
STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy. To be fair, there are a few good one liners. Ironically, David Duchovny, the one actor in the cast known for having a dramatic, not funny resume, rattles off some of the flick’s best hits, at one point schooling Amari’s parents about how his wife is so not racist that she hated “Gone with the Wind” long before white people became aware that they were supposed to.
It had the potential to be good but all in all, I don’t get the idea of a streaming service that casts practically every couple in their movies and TV shows as interracial making a movie that paints interracial marriage as an arduous chore such that both parties must spend every waking moment worrying about how their actions might be misinterpreted by the other, how they might accidentally offend the other, how it’s all too difficult to bother with…eh…I just…it had the potential to be moving and funny but I have to agree with the majority of critics who call this flick too heavy handed. It took a jump but just didn’t quite land the dismount.
Still worth a watch but not something I’d watch again and again. We live in America folks. Love is love and life is short and in a country where people of so many different races, religions, ethnicities, backgrounds all live so close to one another, interracial, inter-religious, inter-this or that marriage happens all the time. It’s not a bad thing and it shouldn’t be seen as an arduous chore.