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You Again

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


Tooth Fairy

Dwayne Johnson is a bucket full of unrealized potential. The man made a name for himself with his WWE persona, "The Rock," marking himself as a bad ass and paving the way for a huge action movie career. So what, pray tell, is he doing in these fluffy family friendly kids movies? Did he learn nothing from The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain or his recent voice work in the atrocious computer animated picture Planet 51? Evidently not, because he seemed more than willing to make a fool of himself in his latest monstrosity, Tooth Fairy. Outside of the inherent comedic value of seeing The Rock flutter around in a pink tutu, this movie has little to offer.

Johnson plays Derek, a minor league hockey player who was sent there from the NHL after hurting his shoulder. He's known on the ice as "The Tooth Fairy" because he has a knack for knocking out his opponent's teeth. He's nothing more than a sideshow on his team, having not taken a shot on goal for nearly ten years. He is dating a pretty woman named Carly, played by Ashley Judd, who has two children, Tess, played by Destiny Whitlock, and Randy, played by Chase Ellison. One night, Tess loses a tooth and places it under her pillow hoping the Tooth Fairy will come and give her money. Derek is babysitting and agrees to humor her, but instead uses the money he has to gamble with his buddies. When she wakes up, freaking out from the lack of cash, Derek decides to tell her the Tooth Fairy isn't real, though he is quickly interrupted by Carly who gets angry with him. That night back at home, he wakes up to find a summon under his pillow. He has been accused of killing dreams and is forced to live as a real live Tooth Fairy for two weeks.

I like Dwayne Johnson. He's charming. He's good looking. He's even pretty funny when he is provided quality material, as evidenced by his role in the hilarious Get Smart. And I must stress, there is nothing funnier than seeing him wear a tutu and looking like an idiot. Laughter is the desired intention in Tooth Fairy, but the problem here is that we're not laughing with it. We're laughing at it. This is merely another in a recent string of awful kids movies with no imagination, intelligence, or bite. Much like the notion of an actual Tooth Fairy, this movie is complete nonsense and as soon as it's out of your head, the better.

However, I can see a good children's movie in here somewhere, but it's saddled down too much by writing that meanders all over the place until it has nowhere to go. Like the posters that promote it, the film is loaded with plays on words like "You can't handle the tooth" and "The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth," all of which are as grating as you'd expect them to be.

The film also lacks a decent sense of direction, probably due to the fact that director Michael Lembeck's most prized titles on his resume are the last two Santa Clause movies, which God knows is nothing to write home about. The only shining light in this otherwise abysmal experience are a handful of decent jokes, mostly coming from the talented Billy Crystal, who plays a role similar to his fantasy turn in The Princess Bride. He is delightful and manages to drag a few guffaws out of the inanity.

Everybody knows that January is dump month, but this year seems to be extra dumpy. Limited releases aside, the only film I would recommend from it is Daybreakers. Since that film, I've sat through dreck like Leap Year, The Lovely Bones, The Spy Next Door, and now this one (with the inevitable stinker When in Rome rounding it out next week).

Still, kids may enjoy this, specifically the ones that still believe in the Tooth Fairy, and it was nice to hear the word "fairy" get thrown around without some derogatory connotation attached to it, but for those above the age of belief, Tooth Fairy is not worth your time.

Tooth Fairy receives 1/5

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