Seeing “You Again” not all it’s cracked up to be

By Kate MacDonald

Courtesy of MCT

Many college students remember their high school days fondly, but are now more concerned with their college lives, careers or significant others. That’s not the case with Kristen Bell’s Marni Olsen, who seems to have not gotten over her horrible teen years in Touchstone’s new flick “You Again.”           

Marni experienced her own living version of “Mean Girls,” with J.J. (Odette Yustman) at the helm as the queen bee (or “the warden,” as she goes on to say). She was an easy target, with thick glasses, acne, greasy hair and zero self-esteem. Nonetheless, she moved on to become a public relations executive.           

On the very day she receives a promotion to be the vice president of her firm, she travels home for her the wedding of her older brother, Will. Back in the day, Will was Ridgefield High School’s golden boy and upon arriving home, she receives very upsetting news.

Will is marrying J.J.           

For someone who has supposedly moved on from her awkward high school days, Bell’s character seems to need reassuring pep talks every other scene.           

As J.J. (now Joanna) begins to remember who Marni was, Marni decides to sabotage the wedding festivities to protect her brother and herself. Joanna, loved by everyone in the Olsen family, now a selfless nurse, begins to exact revenge as well.           

So with the wedding only days away, can Marni reveal Joanna’s true colors before it’s too late, or will she end up looking like the insensitive monster? Have the tables turned?           

The matriarch of the Olsen family, Gail, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, is dealing with a similar problem. She was shoved into a pool on prom night by her former best friend. Imagine her surprise when Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) shows up at her home decades later – she’s Joanna’s only living relative, who happens to be footing the bill for the wedding.           

At times during this movie, it seems like director Andy Fickman bit off more than he could chew.

The dueling plotlines, while meant to mesh together well, end up being completely different situations and don’t really cross paths. It might have turned out better if he’d stuck to one storyline.

But the director, best known for “She’s the Man,” did make a great decision when he hired casting director Gail Goldberg. The female leads, Bell and Yustman, were cast perfectly. Blond versus brunette, loser versus popular girl, each play their parts perfectly. Weaver and Curtis were good for their roles as well.           

The supporting cast also served to help the movie muddle along. The wildly popular Betty White plays Grandma Bunny, who dominates the scenes she appers in. Emmy Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth appears as the eccentric wedding coordinator, while little brother Ben (Billy Unger) steals many scenes.           

Unfortunately, the writing seems to have failed the able actresses. Joanna seems bipolar as her personality flip-flops and Marni does not come off as the strong woman she is supposed to have become. There are definitely hilarious one-liners and classic slapstick humor but not much about “You Again” is original. The storyline relies on the fact that women can be each other’s biggest critics.

“You Again” goes overboard with this at times, though, using petty insults and catfights to propel the plot forward.  The multiple dance numbers that trade off scenes with tear jerking moments serve to further confuse the audience.           

“You Again” isn’t  a completely terrible movie. It is very amusing at times and a cutesy sort of film, but it’s simply not on the same level as other comedies in theaters now. It is also extremely predictable, however and is accompanied by a mundane score and novice camera work.           

It’s too bad that “You Again” does not do its all-star cast justice. It’s just one of those movies that you will walk out of the theaters saying “I’ve seen this movie dozens of times before.”

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]