Review: You Again

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Film Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

All-star female cast of You AgainMost people dread their high school reunions. It usually means going back to a reviled institution to face people you didn’t necessarily like to begin with and, if things haven’t worked out as you’d hoped, smiling politely while your former classmates gloat about how great their lives have turned out and making an excuse to exit before the spotlight is turned on you. (Or at least that’s what other movies have led me to believe.) But what if your high school reunion came to you? To worsen the nightmare, your high school rival is becoming a part of your family.

Marni (Kristen Bell), a successful public relations pro, is returning home for her brother Will’s (James Wolk) wedding. Marni discovers that his bride, Joanna (Odette Yustman), is her former arch nemesis who made her life hell in high school. Joanna is now an angel in her brother’s eyes, a major contradiction to Marni’s memories of her tormentor. This conflict is compounded by the fact that the bride’s highfalutin Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) flies into town and comes face to face with Marni’s mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis), with whom she has an old high school score to settle. Ultimately, Marni feels she must protect her brother by showing him Joanna’s true colours before he makes the biggest mistake of his life.

In a small town, the base situation – an adversary becomes a relative through marriage – is plausible, but everything else about this film is artificial and unrelatable. Each circumstance is rooted in reality, but pushed to its limits until it becomes over-the-top and fake. The playing of “We are Family” at the end of the film only solidifies this point. Conversely, the opening sequence about a high school outcast is exaggerated, but the emotions are at least true. Marni had the worst luck as a teen, plagued by every adolescent stigma at once: acne, braces, glasses and greasy hair – it’s unfortunate, but realistic.

The all-star female cast, which includes Betty White as Grandma Bunny, is impressive. Bell has been carving a place for herself in the romantic comedy genre, adding another notch in her belt with this performance. She’s naturally sweet and likeable, which makes her the perfect choice for the girl who just wants an apology, not revenge. On the other hand, it’s strange to see ‘70s horror and sci-fi icons Curtis (Halloween) and Weaver (Alien) finally together on screen in this type of film. Moreover, a battle that audiences have waited for over 30 years is reduced to a pool fight that resembles a scene from Dallas. Each woman does well with her character, but the long-awaited combination is a disappointment. White’s now regular role as an older woman who says inappropriate things is still entertaining – for now at least. An amusing cameo is provided by Dwayne Johnson, who portrays a sympathetic air marshal present for Marni’s initial breakdown and dubs bullies as “emotional terrorists.”

In the end, You Again is what the trailer presents it to be: a romantic comedy driven by a string of embarrassing moments and enduring rivalries with a happy ending to the tune of Hall & Oates.

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