September 25, 2010
Review - " You Again " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed By: Andy Fickman
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jamie lee Curtis, Odette Yustman, Betty
White, Sigourney Weaver, Victor garber, James Wolk
In 2002, Marni Olivia Olsen “MOO” (Kristen Bell) was the
stereotypical loser in high school. She had braces, acne, flat hair
and an unusually invasive, unavoidable awkwardness of
adolescence. She was brutally bullied by nemesis Joanna “J.J.”
Clark (Odette Yustman), a popular, attractive, mean-spirited
cheerleader. In present day California, Marni is now a successful
PR firm vice president (who is great at speeches but oddly timid
and insecure when it comes to promotions), anxiously returning to
her old home for her brother Will’s (James Wolk) wedding. She’s
thrilled to see her mom Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis), her father Mark
(Victor Garber), her younger brother Ben (Billy Unger) and her
Grandma Bunny (Betty White). But she’s in for a shock when Will’
s fiancée is none other than Joanna, looking prettier, having more
accomplishments and garnering generous approval by Marni’s
family. Gail is also in for a surprise when Joanna’s Aunt Ramona
(Sigourney Weaver) turns out to be her very own best-friend-
turned-enemy from school.
Every superhero needs a nemesis. Villains make our tough guys
tougher, our heroes more heroic, our do-gooders gooder.
They're critical for plot, theme and costume design. Really, if the
Joker hadn't showed up in The Dark Knight, the whole three-hour
movie would've been about Bruce Wayne choosing a new set of
flatware. Gotham City? Try Snoresville.
Sometimes the concept of the nemesis trickles down into reality, too. Most of us can probably remember a nemesis in our
own lives—someone who, for whatever reason, has written "cause misery" next to your name on their bucket list. Their sole
purpose in life seems to be to torment and belittle you, making you feel like a hair in the armpit of humanity.
You Again” takes us back to when we were in high school and had a nemesis that made our high school years fairly
miserable. In her high school years, J.J. filled the role of Marni's nemesis to near perfection: She was Khan to Marni's Kirk,
Nell to Marni's Laura Ingalls. She was a popular, pretty and insanely wicked girl who gleefully smashed jars of Marni's self-
esteem on the pavement, then jumped up and down on the contents.
Who you are in high school determines who you'll be for the rest of your life, Marni tells a video camera—the recording to be
buried in a time capsule for 50 years. Then she adds, "I seriously hope it's not the case."
Thankfully for Marni, it's not. Eight years later, the girl has become a beautiful, successful woman—a soon-to-be VP in a New
York City public relations firm. Once free of her nemesis, Marni soars. She heads back for her older brother's wedding full of
confidence and —
Wait, who did you say he was marrying?
Joanna was, admittedly, a pill in high school. But after her
parents died, she decided to remake herself into someone
they could be proud of. She went to nursing school,
volunteered for a suicide hotline and became, in her words,
"obsessed with helping children in need." Though Marni
suspects Joanna of putting up a sham to snag her brother,
it's no act. She's changed since high school — perhaps more
Joanna's wealthy, pretentious and condescending Aunt Mona,
meanwhile, is still battling adolescent insecurities. After coming
in second to Gail in high school — at prom, in the school play,
you name it — Mona threw everything she had into turning
herself into a powerful hotel magnate. Now she thinks she
wants to rub Gail's face in her success, but in reality, all Mona
really wants is a hug and some reconciliation.
And that's what this movie is all about in the end: reconciling with the past and making peace with the people who have (or
you think have) done you wrong. The core lesson is that we can change for the better if we allow ourselves to.
"You can't control the things that happen to you," Marni tells us as the film begins, "but you can control how you react to
Marni has to relearn her own lesson during the course of You Again. The good news: she does. The better news: We might
learn a thing or two from this bit of cinema as well — and laugh as we do so.
You Again is not groundbreaking art, perhaps. But it is surprisingly funny and startlingly sweet. And I say that as a movie
lover, a movie critic and a curse-counting curmudgeon. If this film had been made when I was a kid 30 or 35 years ago, it
would have probably earned a G rating — right alongside the likes of Freaky Friday and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
Most reviewers weren’t especially kind toward “You Again.”
I enjoyed it because when I bought my movie ticket I didn’t
expect to see something on the scale of “Anna Karenina”
or “Sense and Sensability.” I just expected to see a nice,
fun movie without any car chases and explosions. It’s hard
to find a movie without lots of that anymore.
And then just to show that life never really changes
irregardless of what generation you’re from, the doorbell
rings and Grandma Bunny goes to the door and there is
HER nemesis from high school, Cloris Leachman. It seems
our lives never change from generation to generation even
if we think we have evolved.