The cast alone was enough to make me optimistic about You Again. The film assembles several more than gifted actresses who have all done great comedic work in the past. Walking into the theater I thought to myself, "This is a comedy that's going to have potential." Then Kristen Bell appeared in the opening shot, covered with acne and wearing thick glasses. It then became clear to me that You Again was not going to be ambitious and use its stars to their potential. Rather, I was in store for another by-the-numbers comedy reliant on physical humor and appearance.
Bell exemplified comedic charm as the title character in the underappreciated Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You wouldn't know that Bell is a talented actress based on her one-dimensional role here as Marni, a hopeless geek who is tormented by all the cheerleaders at high school. In one instance the smokin' hot popular girls carry Marni out of the school and shut the door on her face while singing "We Are the Champions." I should know better than anyone that high school can be a cruel environment for the nerdy. But I bet there's not a single former or current high school student who ever witnessed an act that over-the-top. I've seen more kids take slushies to the face.
Marni manages to overcome the brutality of her peers and grows up to be the beautiful vice president of a PR firm in New York. When Marni returns home for her brother's wedding though, she is flabbergasted to learn that his fiancée is Joanna, played by Odette Yustman, the woman that made her high school experience hell. Although Joanna claims to have turned over a new leaf and has won over the rest of the family, Marni is convinced that she is still the same mean girl.
The notion that Marni's witless brother would be marrying her high school nemesis is already contrived enough. You Again adds another level of idiocy to the plot when Joanna's aunt, played by Sigourney Weaver, is introduced to Marni's mother, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. It's revealed that these two were once best friends turned rivals after a senior prom incident. What the crap? Did the planets literally line up?
The film also stars Betty White, who has become the most popular actress in America over the past year, as Marni's Grandma Bunny. How much do you want to bet that it turns out there's some drama between her and Joanna's grandma, too? White is as lovable as ever and is perhaps the only performer in the film that maintains any dignity. But her character is basically a retread of her cute, yet raunchy, grandmother in The Proposal. Also wasted is Kristin Chenoweth, who has done some terrific work on Broadway and television. She may want to put a little more effort into choosing movie scripts though, after being maltreated in one terrible feature after another.
The main problem with You Again is similar to many movies of its kind. Every dilemma in the film could easily be resolved if only the characters would take five minutes to talk matters through. Instead they prolong the inevitable for an hour-and-a-half. Then by the time these bitter characters finally make up the audience doesn't care.
As for the comedy, there are a lot of scenes involving people falling into ant hills, falling into pools, falling off tree houses, getting covered with food, dropping fancy jewelry down the sink, ripping designer dresses, and so on. Material like this might get by on a sitcom. As a movie though, You Again is as bad as any of the unfunny comedies I've seen this year.