Watching You Again is not unlike seeing an old acquaintance from high school, if acquaintances were pleasantly predictable comedies. It tells the same stories, shares the same woes, and hasn’t quite come to terms with the fact that its glory days are over -- but it’s not an unwelcome presence.
The film begins with Kristen Bell in the role of Marni, resident high school geek, circa 2002. Like the “four-eyed, pimple-faced” students that preceded her, as well of those who follow in her footsteps, it’s hard not to sympathize with Marni’s multiple attempts to hold her head high despite crippling social awkwardness and the kind of bad luck that ends up on YouTube. It’s equally as difficult not to inwardly cheer for her eight years after graduation, braces-free, and making a bang in the PR world. Not surprisingly, it’s downright easy to feel her indignation after finding out her kindhearted brother is marrying none other than her former arch nemesis, Joanna (Odette Yustman) -- ex-cheerleading squad captain, self-proclaimed “warden of Ridgefield High,” and Alpha Mean Girl.
Though Marni reluctantly accepts that Joanna doesn’t recall her long stint as a teenaged “emotional terrorist” (phrase courtesy of Dwayne Johnson in a cameo appearance as a deceptively sensitive Federal Air Marshal), the idea that Joanna has transformed into an adult as saintly as her younger self was cruel is too much not to second guess. Marni’s suspicions are confirmed when she realizes Joanna has been dishonest about the significance of a former flame. Using her PR expertise, she launches an elaborate campaign to expose Joanna before her besotted brother can make his vows.
Much to the film’s credit, the actors are clearly committed to making the most of the material. Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver, playing Marni’s mother and Joanna’s aunt, respectively, are able to conjure a believable sense of competition as adults who have carried the baggage from an eventful senior prom into their middle age. Victor Garber seems perfectly natural as Marni’s standup yet slightly New Age father, and Kristin Chenoweth, in the role of celebrity “wedding extra-ordinator” Georgia King, should have her own television series.
While the trappings of comedy allow for a certain suspension of disbelief, Joanna’s bullying -- both in high school and in several pointedly malicious moments toward Marni as an adult -- is too extreme for her redemption to pack much of an emotional punch, despite the film’s concerted effort to humanize her. The groom-to-be (Jimmy Wolk) is such a two-dimensional character that it’s hard to muster any emotion in regard to his love life one way or another.
Despite the film’s shortcomings, however, Bell’s Marni is an endearing character, and the combined efforts of the cast and several genuinely funny moments from minor characters (played by Betty White, Dwayne Johnson, Kristin Chenoweth, and Kyle Bornheimer) inject just enough charm to outweigh the plot contrivances and make You Again a watchable paint-by-numbers comedy for queen bees and wannabes alike.
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- Released: 2010
- Rating: PG
- Review: Watching You Again is not unlike seeing an old acquaintance from high school, if acquaintances were pleasantly predictable comedies. It tells the same stories, shares the same woes, and hasn’t quite come to terms with the fact that its glory days are over… (more)