Where I Watched it: Netflix
English Audio Description provided By: international Digital Center
Written By: Liz gutman
Narrated By: Savannah Calder
Some have erroneously tried to call this a remake of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? No. It’s just a culture clash film, featuring a talented cast, from a writer/director who doesn’t shy away from social commentary. Yes, this is Kenya barris’s directorial debut. He’s had his producing and writing hits with TV shows like Black-ish and films like Girls Trip, but he’s never sat in the chair for a feature. The last thing he touched, #BlackAF was pretty awful. Was that a fluke?
Here, Barris relies heavily on his talented cast. Jonah hill plays a Jewish guy who has a podcast about culture with his friend (played by the hilarious Sam Jay), and he has a chance encounter with a lovely black girl (Lauren London), and off we go in a comedy about what happens when a Jewish family and a black family try to blend. Of course, Barris doesn’t play this safe at all, and decides to make the parents on the extreme ends. The daughters parents are played by Eddie Murphy and Nia Long. Long is criminally underutilized here, while Murphy plays a black power Muslim who is like the reincarnation of Malcolm X, but if played by Eddie Murphy. He looks at Jonah hill and there’s immediately zero fucks given.
Meanwhile, on the other end, his parents are played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny. Much like Long, Duchovny’s presence in this film is pointless. Perhaps there’s a cut scene between Duchovny and Long where they are stuck in an elevator together. So, our Veep alum has to take control of this side of the story, and man… the nicest thing I could say about the interpretation of this lady is that she’s “a bit much”. Even if she wasn’t looking at the prospect of having a black daughter-in-law, she’s already a bit much. So, when London comes onto the scene, it’s like she’s finally caught her last Pokémon. She treats her with what she believes is respect, but comes across as if London is a gimmick or some trophy to show off. Not a real person, despite London being aggressively polite for most of the film.
The comedy comes mostly from Dreyfus being over the top, or Murphy making Jonah hill deathly uncomfortable. It’s this constant culture clash, and this talented cast, that actually made me enjoy this. It’s not going to be the best film of the year, but I thought it was clever enough. Probably its biggest sin is that when it gets to the need to wrap up, suddenly we are all able to just change personalities and everything is magically fixed. The ending isn’t earned. It just exists.
The audio description here does a good enough job of pointing out what it needs to point out. This film is very much a film about two clashing races and cultures, and in a day and age where one of the most popular rappers on the planet is running around spreading nonsense, it’s odd to see hill and Murphy tea teaming up for this comedy. Maybe this is exactly what we need right now.
Final Grade: B