Yes, You Again is hysterical and it is largely due to the cast as well as the astute comedic directing by Andy Fickman. You Again is sensational in taking a tired genre, the romantic comedy, and breathing new life into it by injecting the sub-story of the lingering effects of the high school experience.
Kristen Bell plays Marni, an awkward girl in high school who was menaced by the school's cheerleading captain, Joanna (Odette Yustman). The film begins by showing the painfully excruciating experience Marni had at the hands of Joanna and then effectively segways to present day where Bell's Marni is a successful PR executive on her way home for her brother's wedding. She discovers that the woman that has stolen her brother's heart is none other than Joanna, who stole any joy from her high school experience.
You Again also works by invoking another generation into the melee of high school frenemies. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Marni's mom Gail, who herself was the menace in high school to Sigourney Weaver's Ramona. Gail is completely charmed by Joanna and it becomes quickly apparent to Marni that the family has already fallen in love with Joanna, much as Marni's brother Will (Lone Star's James Wolk) has. Don't they understand that this was the girl that made Marni's high school life hell? Suddenly the feelings Bell possesses shift to Joanna's aunt as she arrives for the wedding weekend to discover that her niece is marrying into the family led by mom Gail, Weaver's high school nemesis.
The best comedies work when there are multiple layers to the comic entanglements. With Bell fighting with Yustman and Weaver with Curtis, one thing becomes hauntingly clear in You Again's ability to be honest with its audience: No matter who we were in high school, the memories are still sore. It is an awkward time and the teenage insecurities do not soften with age.
Yustman is perfectly cast in her first non-sci-fi role and her jousts with Bell are hilariously executed. Bell is in her usual perfect comic timing mode and Kristin Chenoweth delivers big laughs in several side-splitting scenes. Weaver and Curtis are equally as proficient in their comedic battles and on a side note, screenwriters need to get more comedy scripts to Weaver. Between Ghostbusters, Working Girl, Heartbreakers and You Again, the Oscar nominee is an astounding actress when it comes to the comic sensibilities of cinema. We need more Sigourney silliness!
With all these fantastic actresses, it is an actor at the center of all this comic frenzy who steals every scene he's in and that is Victor Garber. Garber portrays Curtis' husband and Bell's father. His Mark is a part that could have been lost in the mix, but Garber takes the small role and makes it something truly special.
Yes, You Again's cast is outstanding. If we had one critique of the film, it would be that Betty White needs to be used more than she is -- there are many scenes White is in where she doesn't even have any lines. Sure, we all know White is a comic treasure and the current "It" girl in Hollywood, so this critic can wish for a little more White in our You Again comedic soup.
Out of five stars:
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