It’s indisputable: high school can haunt you forever. Or at least that’s the point “You Again” tries to make.
At Quality 16
Meet Marni Olivia Olsen (Kristen Bell, “Couples Retreat’), an attractive and successful young professional who spent her high school days decked out in classic nerd gear. Naturally, her school’s head cheerleader, the flawless looking J.J. (Odette Yustman, “Cloverfield”), made her life a living hell.
Marni thought those days were over, but turns out, her all-star of an older brother is marrying J.J., who now goes by the more sophisticated Joanna. The two meet the weekend before the wedding and it’s high school all over again.
“You Again” certainly lives up to its name. Again, it’s the same old battle between the geek and the school princess. One would hope because the story is so stale it would contain new humorous elements to spice it up, but the opposite is true.
The movie is unmistakably unfunny. The dialogue is deficient in bite and cleverness. You’d at least expect to laugh once or twice at the situational humor. But no. The movie’s a tedious experience, leaving you checking your watch every five minutes, praying for it to be over.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so unbearable if any of the characters were remotely likable. We’re at the very least supposed to feel for Marni; she was the victim of cruelty in high school. Yet the Marni we see now is vindictive and petty, no better than her high school tormentor. This is in part the fault of the writing, but Bell does little to make the protagonist a sympathetic character.
The rest of the female characters share the same abhorrent qualities as Marni. Her mom, Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis, “Freaky Friday”), has a bit of unfinished business from high school herself with, coincidentally, Joanna’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver, “Avatar”). The two engage in the same kind of juvenile power struggle, even though it’s been about 30 years since they were in high school. The male characters are too peripheral for you to even form an opinion about them.
Who’s the audience for “You Again”? It’s baffling trying to think of to whom the film is attempting to appeal. Lacking any kind of high school charm, it’s certainly not a teen movie. Is it a family comedy? It’s unlikely that Dad would enjoy watching an hour and forty-five minutes of PG-rated cat fights. Or is it trying to appeal to middle-aged women with fond memories of high school? They’d probably find the film insulting, as it portrays females in an extremely unflattering light, as nothing more than immature, competitive creatures craving revenge.
“You Again” isn’t even worth a rent. High school haunts forever only in this film. The rest of us have all moved on with our lives.