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Great Expectations…Or, Resentments In Training

I’ve read a number of dismissive posts in regard to YOU PEOPLE, the latest, and typically fatuous, version of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER, directed by Kenya Barris, and co-written by Barris and Jonah Hill, the picture’s male lead.

I might add that I’m not a situation comedy enthusiast, and that while I am somewhat, but far from universally familiar with some of the talent involved, this is the first work of Barris’ I’ve ever seen.

Much of the dismissal in those posts rejects as fantasy any woman of Lauren London’s caliber falling for any man played by Jonah Hill.

As a man who has married early and often, and always above my station, I won’t speak to that, but rather to another equally fantastical element of this enterprise that leapt out at me.

I refer here to the readiness of the Cohens, the Hill character’s parents, to almost instantly forgive and forget the Mohammeds, the London character’s parents —after a very brief and half hearted display of dismay—for their affirmed and united adoration of Louis Farrakhan, a man who regards such people as the Cohens, and hey, me, as Satan’s spawn and deserving of murderous and systematic elimination.

This plot point emerges at their first meeting, and after that barely registered reaction on the part of the parents, culminates in a bit of ham-handed slapstick, and is never addressed again.

Clearly we, the audience, are asked to forget it, too.

Eddie Murphy, underplaying as Akbar Mohammed, delivers this aspect of his family and their faith as a fait accompli.

On the other hand, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Shelley Cohen, in a performance that would fit just fine in the execrable cartoonland that is THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL—but only those broadly vaudevillian roles filled by actual Jewish actors, of course—serves as a caricatured distraction from what might have made for an actually challenging picture, or perhaps better yet just ended it right there.

No such luck.

Rather, we are asked to disdain and dismiss the Cohens’ cartoonish liberal guilt shmuckery as insulting and offensive—which, in its broadly caricatured silliness, it certainly is—but in the same, “we’re all in this together” relativist bullshit mindset, to take no offense in regard to the Mohammed’s embrace of this stridently avowed Jew baiter.

Imagine, if you will, the narrative situation reversed, and the Cohens had declared their embrace of, say, the theories of Charles Murray, certainly as disreputable a figure as Louis Farrakhan in any just and fair world.  How would that forgiveness and judgment been allotted then, I wonder?

And to be clear, that was irony. I don’t really wonder.

As ever, I remain,

Howard Victor Chaykin, a Prince…with diminished expectations, and thus rarely disappointed.


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