Let me start by saying that whatever preconceived opinion you have of You Again is probably right. If you’ve seen the television spots and thought you’d enjoy it, you probably will. On the other hand, if the trailers didn’t really appeal to you, then steer clear. You Again is the very definition of light, family friendly entertainment. It’s predictable and there’s not much to it. Yet, to the film’s credit, there are some funny and tender moments sprinkled throughout the otherwise mediocre script.
After suffering through an excruciating time in high school, Marni (Kristen Bell) has finally moved forward with her life, becoming a successful PR executive. However, all of Marni’s progress threatens to fall apart when she learns that her brother, Will (James Wolk), is marrying Joanna (Odette Yustman) — the girl who tortured Marni in high school. As Marni tries to expose Joanna’s true colors to Will, her mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) is shocked to discover that her own high school rival, Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) is the closest thing to family Joanna has.
The film’s biggest strength is in its cast, a stellar lineup consisting of veterans and up-and-comers alike. What’s unfortunate is that these talented performers aren’t given much material to work with. Apart from Will and Mark (Victor Garber), all of the characters aren’t all that likable — they’re too self-involved and immature to discuss their problems with one another, instead resorting to antics that are more in character for eighth graders.
Even Bell, who in the past has had the remarkable ability to make psychopaths (“Heroes”) and unfaithful girlfriends (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) endearing, can’t make Marni a likable protagonist. It doesn’t help matters much that Marni, after earning our sympathy in the film’s opening, becomes so irrational by the film’s third act that she becomes the very person she hates Joanna for being. I guess she never heard the phrase “be the bigger person,” or, if she had, it was clearly lost on her. As Joanna, Yustman is able to provide the character with a few extra layers, barely avoiding being branded a villain.
Curtis and Weaver don’t fair much better as high school rivals, Gail and Ramona. While Garber is excellent as the family’s patriarch, Mark (one of the film’s few sane characters), one can’t help but wish there was more for him to do than stand on the sidelines. The film’s most noteworthy performer is Wolk (TV’s exceptional “Lone Star”), who takes the rather thankless role as Will and transforms the character into the film’s most endearing individual.
Perhaps the film’s biggest flaw, other than its predictable script and lacklustre characterization, is in its resolution. The final reconciliation scene between Marni and Joanna feels rushed and artificial. For the film to take so long to reach such an easy ending feels more than a little like cheating. In contrast, a similar scene involving Gail and Ramona rings so much more sincere. Yet the most frustrating aspect of the film’s resolution is that Will and Joanna’s own reconciliation occurs off-screen after we’ve invested so much time in their relationship.
In the end, You Again isn’t a particularly bad film, it’s just rather forgettable.