Mar 21, 2011

[Movies] You Again (2010)

You Again (2010)There are those movies that as soon as you see the poster or read the synopsis, you know it's all about a gimmick. Case in point, this movie features one of the biggest comedy gimmicks of recent history - involving Betty White in your project.

This is not to say she's not a good comedian / actress nor am I saying that I don't like her. In fact, I absolutely love Betty White and her work plus her recent appearances on shows like Saturday Night Live have been spectacular. However there's a difference between casting her because you truly need her skills in order to drive the movie forward instead of just having her along for the ride to see what numbers she can draw in as a supporting character who happens to be dead center in the poster.

Then again, this movie is all about gimmicks when you look at it. It also features other actresses that (1) we generally love, (2) are a bit older than we realized and (3) are fit enough to prove that they can still act as if they were much younger even when cast alongside much younger actresses.

That's really what this movie is all about - gimmick after gimmick after gimmick. And guiltily enough, I actually enjoyed watching it.

You Again is a 2010 comedy directed by Andy Fickman and written by Moe Jelline. Fickman has directed a number of other movies including comedies like She's the Man and The Game Plan.

The movie begins in 2002 with a socially-inept, acne-covered teen version of Marni (Kristin Bell) filming a video for a time capsule project. There she narrates the state of her life as a high school senior subject to constant bullying by the popular girls at school. Fast forward to the present and Marni is now a successful PR executive who just won a promotion for vice president for their New York office. But with her brother Will (James Wolk) getting married, she makes a trip home first to participate in the wedding. Once there, she discovers that her brother is engaged to be married to the source of all her humiliation in high school - Joanna (Odette Yustman).

When Marni first meets Joanna after more than 8 years since graduation, it seems she's a completely different person who has lived a good life of volunteer work and activism. She also seems to be unable to remember who Marni was in high school, thus presenting the front of a fresh start for both of them. As the rest of the family warms up to Joanna, Marni can't shake her suspicions nor can she let go of the lack of closure for all the torment she received in high school. To add another dimension of irony to things, it turns out Marni's mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) knew Joanna's aunt in high school. She had a similar negative past with Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) given she was the one who pushed Gail into a swimming pool during their high school prom. Thus we now two generations of the family at odds with their counterparts and yet they all have to come together because of the impending wedding.

At first, I was highly skeptical about this movie. The setup was clearly along more gimmick-driven lines, it was yet another cross-generational movie involving Jamie Lee Curtis and I was never overly impressed with Kristin Bell's acting abilities. But as the movie progressed, things were a bit more bearable than expected. It wasn't enough to make this a life-changing movie or anything serious like that, but at the very least I made it to the end of the movie.

Betty White at the Time 100 gala in 2010Image via WikipediaAt times, it felt like a sketch comedy series whose segments were somehow tied together into one bigger story as a movie. Case in point, you get the comedic moments of Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver constantly trying to outdo one another and thus make fools of themselves as adults. You get the idle rivalry moments between Kristen Bell and the other girl. You get the stupid I've-had-a-crush-on-you-since-high-school instances between Kristen's character and that Charlie guy (Sean Wing). And of course you get the guest comedy spots thanks to both Betty White, who really was just a bit player in this whole thing, and Kristin Chenoweth as Georgia King, the bubbly wedding planner.

If anything, the really good potential for comedy were really in the hands of Betty White and Kristin Chenoweth, and so I felt they were horribly underutilized. Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis had their moments too, but then the movie was trying to focus on the younger stars so their efforts were often wasted.

As a whole, the story was a series of cliches and predictable plot twists that started out as cute but later seemed a tad sad. There were bright moments, yes, but nothing truly laugh out loud funny and nothing for me to want to make me rave about this movie and recommend it to friends.

You Again had a cute concept at heart, some interesting ideas but in the end was just really a badly matched collection of gimmicks. It gets 1.5 ridiculous ways to turn Kristen Bell back into her high school alter ego out of a possible 5.



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