Monday, September 27, 2010

Into the Hollywood Abyss: You Again

The notion, stated by the lead character in You Again, that “who you are in high school determines who you are for the rest of your life” is hardly a new one in Hollywood-land,  but seldom has it been as clumsily dramatized as in this woeful comedy about teen rivalries revived among multiple generations of a California family. We encounter Marni Olsen (Kristin Bell) in a video of her awkward ’90s self, with oversized glasses and acne, being bullied by a cabal of cheerleaders chanting Queen’s “We Are The Champions” as they shove poor Marni out of the school.

Now a young adult, Marni has triumphed by becoming a pretty, successful PR executive in L.A.. Traveling home for her brother’s wedding, she learns his fiancée is Joanna (Odette Yustman), Marni’s erstwhile chief tormentor, who has wormed her way into Marni’s family’s hearts. Through a series of mirthless mishaps, Marni is restored to her bad-skinned, bespectacled high school self, laboring desperately—in appallingly implausible ways that include excavating a buried time capsule—to stop the wedding. Joanna’s glamorous Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) sashays in, reigniting her ill-defined ’70s-vintage rivalry with Marni’s mom (Jamie Lee Curtis).

The pairing of Weaver and Curtis is the movie’s big draw, but with Moe Jelline’s witless screenplay, Andy Fickman’s feckless direction, indifferent performances by the supporting cast, and some remarkably bad camera work, it’s a rickety vehicle indeed for these veteran actresses. Betty White, still riding the crest of renewed popularity, provides the sole laugh near the end, where she's reunited momentarily with an old co-star, but it’s a dreadfully long haul getting there. — Pamela Zoslov

Originally published in Cleveland Scene.

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