In what has been a rough year for romantic comedies, You Again stands apart from the crowd. Don’t take that as a glowing recommendation, however. It’s definitely not good, but it’s also not terrible, so I suppose that’s saying something. Differing from other dreck this year like The Back-up Plan or The Bounty Hunter, You Again’s focus is more on the comedy than romance, holding off the hook-ups until the end, but it is no less boring and insipid for it. Despite an able, likable cast, this cat fight of a movie can’t hold up to scrutiny.
Back in high school, Marni (Kristen Bell) lived a miserable existence thanks to head cheerleader and bully Joanna (Odette Yustman). Along with her friends, she ruthlessly taunted Marni (which apparently includes carrying her around like a hero and singing Queen’s “We Are the Champions”—I wish bullies were that nice when I was in school). Now, Marni works at a high class public relations firm and has just been promoted to Vice President. It seems to make up for Joanna’s bullying, she worked hard and made something of herself. But her brother Will (James Wolk) is getting married and, whaddya know, his bride-to-be is Joanna. Marni’s mother, Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis), tells her not to worry about it, but ends up eating her words when Joanna’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), Gail’s own arch-nemesis from high school, arrives for the wedding.
You Again is a movie that doesn’t amount to much. The jokes, usually of the slapstick variety, rarely work and its ending wraps everything up in a nice little bow, despite the extreme circumstances, but, nevertheless, it has considerable charm. This is a great cast, with the likes of Betty White, Victor Garber and cameos from Dwayne Johnson and Patrick Duffy joining those already mentioned, coming together to play out a lighthearted, if ultimately empty, family friendly film.
But if anything, it’s that family friendly nature that keeps the film from reaching greater comedy aspirations. Instead of having some mean spirited fun with its rivalry story set-up, it goes the passive aggressive route. The characters never truly attack each other. They simply talk nice to each other with an underlying zing hidden in each sentence that brings up past transgressions. After a while, it gets boring and you begin to wish something more would happen. Rather than let this terrific ensemble cast live it up, You Again foolishly keeps them subdued for the majority of its runtime.
While the rest of the film is harmlessly middle-of-the-road, the ending reaffirmed my inability to give this a recommendation. After an hour and a half of goofy nonsense, You Again suddenly becomes a self pitying drama where each character sorrowfully realizes how awful they have been. All of the contempt held by each character suddenly vanishes. Its melodramatic and sickly sweet nature is, ironically (and unintentionally), the funniest part of the movie.
You Again is just a drop of water in a sweeping ocean. It will be forgotten by most come the end of the year, with only the few who buy the eventual DVD keeping its memory alive. It is slight in every sense of the word and although it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been, it’s unworthy of anything more than a passing glance.
You Again receives 2/5