A good comedy will make you laugh. A GREAT comedy will make you laugh and think. Unfortunately, too often, when a film aspires to the latter, they wind up not just failing in that regard, but whiffing on the former as well. Laughs have a tendency to evaporate when people try too hard.

And let me tell you – “You People” tries WAY too hard.

On paper, this Netflix movie should have been a slam dunk. The people involved have legitimate comedic bona fides, with Kenya Barris behind the camera directing from a script he co-wrote with Jonah Hill. Hill also stars, alongside some pretty heavy hitters – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Duchovny, Nia Long and Eddie F---ing Murphy, among others. Plus, you’re looking at a film intended to mine humor from the culture clashes and social dynamics of the current day. All in all, looking pretty good.

Right up until you, y’know, watch the thing.

“You People” is one of those movies that can’t get out of its own way, trying to be all things to all audiences and instead failing to please anyone. There are some cringe-y comic moments and some feints at social awareness, but the film never manages to find anything resembling balance. The wild variances in tone make it difficult to settle in and wind up undermining whatever moments of humor might be found. It seems like a good faith effort, but one sorely wanting in terms of execution.

Published in Movies

At what point does the degradation of a copy of a copy of a copy become a bridge too far with regard to filmmaking? In this era of reboots and remakes, how many iterations are too many?

Take “Cheaper by the Dozen,” the new original – sorry, “original” – film streaming on Disney+. This film is a remake of the 2003 Steve Martin vehicle which was itself an adaptation of the 1950 original, based on the real life of efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth.

It’s dozens all the way down.

The central focus of these films – massive blended families – remains the same even as the details surrounding those large families change. However, there’s undeniably a significant degree of diminishing returns, and while this latest iteration does expand its vocabulary somewhat – largely through efforts at wider inclusivity – it doesn’t really seem to have much to say.

“Cheaper by the Dozen” isn’t bad. Not really. But nor is it particularly good. It is a perfectly cromulent family film, one that will likely prove acceptable for everyone in the family while not actively appealing to any of them. Slight, saccharine and ultimately forgettable, it will pass the time, but don’t expect much more than that.

Published in Movies


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