You Again review by Tom Blain

The idea behind You Again is that Marni, a former pimply nerd in high school now turned hot and successful, comes home to find her brother is getting hitched with Joanna, the same fascist cheerleader who tormented her in school. Marni has problems coming to grips with the fact that Joanna doesn't remember her and therefore won't apologize for all the years of torture. Along the way the truth bubbles to the surface and old feelings of hatred are reborn as the two young ladies engage in a two day cat fight leading up to the wedding.

Running in parallel to that is an older cat fight between Marni's mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curits) and Joanna's Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver). Both were friends in high school but had some sort of falling out. Ramona is the successful career oriented one and Gail is the "I have a great family" one.

You Again also features Betty White as Marni's grandmother; a role that seems sparse enough to where it could have been an add-in when some producer had a plum idea to add the now surprisingly famous White for a bit more star power. It adds or possibly reacts to the odd ground swell movement to bring Betty White back to the forefront of the comedy scene. A movement that started on Facebook to get Betty White to host SNL, now seems to have gotten her more roles in recent films as well as a TV Land sitcom.

For any comic moments the movie might have, its held back by its campy, over-choreographed moments. In the intro, a bitchy Joanna leads an alliance of her classmates down the hall singing Queen's We Are the Champions in unison as they dump the dweeby Marni outside the schools front door. It opens the movie with low expectations. The movie continues to celebrate Joanna's cheerleaderiness in a number of overdone scenes: first as she and Gail recreate some cheerleaderthing, second during the rehearsal dance which falls out of control, and third during the rehearsal dinner as Joanna performs what would be a laughable cheerleader dance routine at any real rehearsal dinner. Way too much Bring it On for my taste.

But even more irritating than goof ball dance sequences is how it defines Marni's transformation from a geek into a successful PR director. She describes her brother telling her to "believe in yourself (and) you can do anything you want," and her follow-up to that in her own words were that she, "ditched the braces, got contacts, and spent more than $8 on a haircut." This left a rather sour taste in my mouth and it minimized any hard work that any real "Marni" would have to put in to her schooling and career, and boiled it down to, "I just got hot, and here I am! Success came because of a change in wardrobe and clear skin." There is an element of growing up and changing your appearance that I understand. Also shows like What Not to Wear train people to dress for success, but in most cases the people have extreme issues with their appearance. Also in a number of cases some of the people have attained good jobs (lawyer, architect, etc.) through hard work before they changed their appearances. The writer had a number of choices for how to phrase that scene and in doing so made a clear choice to say, "I changed the way I looked and that did it all." A curious, if not incomplete message.

And yet another area of the film that came off as confused was the character of Joanna. She claims to want to distance herself from the bitchy JJ from high school days (acts as if she forgot about high school and it's a blur), but often finds her self reverting back to her bully tendencies. Of course this is all supposed to be a vehicle to drive the comedy, but the fact that she flips the switch so effortlessly leaves the viewer thinking not that she wants change and be a good person, but hide who she really is in order to get married. Even through the movies denouement she acts sweet and good, but based on her previous actions its hard to root for a completed wedding.

The one thing that I found to be a positive from this movie was Kristen Bell. She seamlessly transitioned between hotty and notty, and did so with more authenticity than I am accustomed. This type of "ugly duckling" movie is pretty much on a two to three year cycle and in the past directors have tried in vane to take an attractive actress and dress her down and of course to the trained eye, the illusion fails nearly every time. But its to Bell's credit that she can hold up both ends of the bargain. Honestly, my expectation going into the film was that I was not going to like Kristen Bell. In the past year or two it seems like she has been in a few annoying comedies (When in Rome, Couples Retreat). The razzie nominations seemed to be on the way. But in this sub par film, she at least kept her head above water.

Of course all of the issues can be forgiven if the movie was funny... which in most cases it is not. Instead of growing up and moving into its 20s and 30s, the movie feels like it remains firmly in place in its teens. Celebrations of cheerleader dreams, anxieties over pimple, and inability to face your fears (or apologize) are drivers for all characters young and old. It even has the bright and glowey production values of a teen comedy. If it were to find its way into adulthood, it might have made a better film.




3 out of 10 Jackasses
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