Continuing her crusade to corner the market for the lowest common denominator of Disney films, Kristen Bell returns to the fold with You Again, an uninspired and frequently galling rom-com that curiously fails to pluck a heartstring or tickle a funny bone, fulfilling neither of its genre criteria.
You Again is an ugly duckling fable which pushes the time-honoured idea that everyone deserves a second chance ™, an ideology Bell would do well to invest in should she wish to attract more substantive fare. Not to worry though – with Burlesque on the horizon and Everyone Loves Whales currently shooting, it shouldn’t be long until Bell is waving an Oscar excitedly and irritating everyone for miles around with her gushing acceptance speech.
Marni (Bell), once the most bullied ‘loser’ in her high-school (a status stereotypically characterised by black-rimmed glasses and lip-shredding braces), returns to her hometown only to discover that Joanna (Odette Yustman), her chief tormentor, is presently engaged to her brother Will. This shock revelation pitches Marni against her future sister-in-law, jeopardising her own peace of mind in the process, as well as her brother’s. When it transpires that Joanna’s mother Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) shares a similarly fractured past with Marni’s mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis), repressed tensions and escalating animosities threaten to disrupt the wedding and tear family ties to shreds.
You Again’s picturesque geography, comprised of idyllic tree houses, white picket fences and expensive cars is matched for perfection by its largely ‘faultless’ characters, no one person occupying a job less impressive than a corporate lawyer. Which leads to one of the film’s biggest problems; the indecision over whether to outright condemn shallow material wealth or allow it to denote and accurately reflect the happiness and success of each respective character. Settling on neither side, characters slowly bleed into one until Marni finally crawls into a state of enlightenment and leaves her past behind .
Shot with clinical precision, You Again acquires the air of a factory line product, hardly surprising given the consistent rate with which Disney knocks off these highly innocuous and interchangeable titles. However, rhythmically awkward pacing and the tardy introduction of important characters prevents the film from gaining any semblance of a dimension, the writers all too happy to permit their material to languish in mediocrity and crass sentimentality culminating in an utterly forgettable 90 minutes. At its best it’s inoffensive; at its worst it’s lifeless and monotonous. The next time Bell appears on screen don’t be surprised to find yourself muttering, “Oh God – not you again” – after all – you’ll have been there before.