Whether our objection can be chalked up to a bad feeling or something much more concrete, undoubtedly and at least once in our lives, we’ve all been in the supremely awkward position of truly disliking the person that our friend or relative has their heart set on marrying.
Yet because love makes fools of us all, out of politeness and fear that the one we’re trying to protect from heartache will cut us out of their lives forever for ruining the reverie of tunnel vision – much like being presented with a gaudy sweater our grandmother knitted for us – most of the time, we’re forced to keep our opinions to ourselves.
Needless to say, there’s a reason so many of us have fake smiles on our faces in photographs of “the big day,” as we look as uncomfortable as we were in front of the camera for high school picture day.
And for the unassuming yet successful PR rep Marnie (played by Kristen Bell), the cruelest version of high school picture day in the form of a life sentence is exactly what she’s facing all over again in The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain director Andy Fickman’s egregiously unfunny comedy You Again from the House of Mouse.
Upon returning home for the wedding of her idolized older brother Will (James Wolk), Marnie is shocked to discover that Joanna (Odette Yustman) – the woman who will soon become her sister-in-law – is in fact the girl Marnie formerly knew as J.J. whom (unbeknown to her family) made Marnie’s high school life an unspeakable hell as the mercilessly evil Queen Bee.
Adding confusing insult to emotional injury, when Joanna anxiously greets Marnie, she appears to be doing so for the first time, claiming she never knew Marnie in high school and can’t wait to learn everything about the girl whose last name she’ll soon be sharing.
Having seemingly abandoned her wicked ways after the death of her parents, Joanna works as a R.N. and fits in so well with Marnie’s parents (Jamie Lee Curtis and Victor Garber) and surroundings that she’s even managed to steal the heart of the family dog.
However, with only her younger brother to serve as a confidant, Marnie is understandably hesitant to trust the woman who’d caused her so much pain in the past, particularly when Marnie uncovers some holes and inconsistencies in Joanna's story.
And in fact, the question of whether or not it’s all an elaborate Mean Girls inspired charade grows much more suspicious with the introduction of Joanna’s Aunt Ramona (Siguorney Weaver), whom we discover was the high school rival of Marnie’s mom Gail (Curtis).
While one coincidence could’ve sparked an interesting premise, the second coincidence turns the entire movie into a dubious farce. And honestly, You Again would’ve fared much better as an intentionally over-the-top stage play rather than a misogynistic hybrid of Meet the Parents, and Father of the Bride as written by drunk frat boys who just got shot down by a girl in a bar who was on a date with someone else.
An ugly mess of a movie that's wasted on an otherwise flawlessly gorgeous high definition transfer, You Again doesn’t spare a single stereotypical “chick flick” cliché in its roughly hundred minute running time.
And predictably, the culmination of the characters’ baggage, pent-up frustration and gossip manifests into jealous girl vs. girl (and girl on girl) revenge in the form of a pathetically mean-spirited catfight, featuring a dish-hurling Yustman and Bell on land and a smack down turned confession with Curtis and Weaver in a pool.
Likewise, for those still holding out hope that You Again would somehow bounce back with even the faintest trace of a girl power message, all we get is an intervention over carb-filled spray cheese and two lectures by the characters the movie considers to be the sanest in the form of the men when after the brother expresses his disappointment, the father tells his wife and daughter they’re “grounded.”
With Hollywood releases such as these, it’s no wonder that critiques of romantic comedies often bring out the unintentional misogynist in members of the male dominated film reviewing press in a way that can’t help but further promote sexist attitudes among the mainstream public.
Offensive enough to make the tasteless Matthew McConaughey vehicle Ghosts of Girlfriends Past look downright feminist by comparison, the most important lesson learned when it comes to You Again (and Kristen Bell’s other 2010 rom-com disaster When in Rome) is that politeness be damned, someone needs to tell Bell not to say “I do” to such insulting scripts.
Text ©2011, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.