Movie Review for You Again


You Again

Comedy | G | 1 hr 45 min
Columbia Pictures
You Again might just be the most insufferable movie of the year. It is a new entry in the despicable genre of “aren’t women crazy?” films, where we are transported to a world where the female of the species cannot resolve their problems without throwing food at each other at some point. Meanwhile, the men look on in disbelief. Casual misogyny plus lazy plotting plus lazy filmmaking plus squandered talent equals a terrible, terrible film.

Marni (Kristen Bell) had an awful time in high school, thanks mostly to the bullying of cheerleader Joanna (Odette Yustman). Years later, Marni has gotten her act together, and is more than happy to leave her awkward high school self behind. That is, until she learns that her older brother is marrying Joanna. When she doesn't get an apology from her old nemesis, she decides that she needs to reveal Joanna for the fraud that she is. Meanwhile, Marni's mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) is rekindling a high school rivalry of her own, as it turns out that Joanna's aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) is an old nemesis of hers.

The world in You Again is one nobody will recognize. In this world, women are eternally vindictive, holding on to high school grudges as if the world stopped turning when they graduated. It is a world where people can’t just sit down and talk out their problems. There’s really no room for civility or reason in this alternate reality. Problems must be brought up in the most public way possible. Dishes must be thrown, vanilla pudding dumped on heads, and designer dresses ruined in swimming pools. Every character in this film, including the ones we are supposed to root for, is completely insufferable. They are petty and stupid and completely incapable of acting like human beings.

The lack of sympathetic characters makes this film’s grab for sentiment utterly unbearable. The film predictably lurches into the third act with the delusion of the characters having learned something. Tears are shed and apologies are offered. A couple of lines of dialogue magically resolve this bitter and caustic situation, signaling the entrance of the warm and fuzzies. With over an hour of petty slapstick feuding between the women of this film, this development is pretty hard to swallow. So hard to swallow, in fact, that audiences might find themselves gagging in their seats.

It has become baffling how Kristen Bell has been completely unable to break out of the assembly line Hollywood romcom. Bell, who came into public consciousness in the mostly terrific Veronica Mars, has exhibited greater range than her movie roles would suggest. Whereas television allowed her to show off compelling inner strength, cinema has corralled her into the same space as every fragile, emotionally unstable romcom heroine. This film also squanders the great talents of Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver and Betty White. These three women have an incredible track record for elevating material, but you can only push the falling into the swimming pool gag so far.

You Again has a rotten core. Films like this one tend to get dismissed as harmless fluff, but that’s giving the film too much credit. This film’s currency is casual misogyny, urging people to laugh as they portray women in the worst light possible. And then it has the audacity to force in some false sentiment. No, You Again is not harmless. It is exactly the kind of film that gives Hollywood a bad name.

My Rating:

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