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Dull 'You Again' revisits high school horrors
By Dann Gire | Daily Herald Film Critic

A family (Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristen Bell and the immortal Betty White) star in the revenge-themed comedy "You Again."


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Published: 9/23/2010 12:00 AM

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"High school was a horror movie!" Marni shrieks. "And this weekend was the sequel!"

Actually, if Marni could see her own movie "You Again," she would realize high school was nothing compared to the horror that she's giving us.

A listless, draggy, torpid revenge comedy, "You Again" throws characters of varying degrees of dislikeability on the screen, gives them inane things to say ("I'm so sorry I was evil!") and stupid things to do. (A woman falling once is not funny. Falling down twice? Really not funny.)

"You Again" is also a dishonest movie that doesn't make any effort to keep track of its own history. One key character, the beautiful Joanna (Odette Yustman), supposedly has seen the light, repented for being a bully in high school and become a better person.

No, she didn't.

Joanna is a proven liar who clearly has continued her bullying ways. Yet, the ending to Andy Fickman's comedy must ignore all this in order for it to make sense.

Kristen Bell plays Marni, who went through high school as a zit-infested, brace-wearing nerd subjected to intimidation and harassment by the beautifully evil Joanna.

Years later, Marni has come into her own beauty and evolved into a successful PR executive whose brother Will (James Wolk) is getting married.

To Joanna!

Or as Marni refers to her, Satan's Spawn.

When Marni meets Joanna, she's shocked. Joanna doesn't recognize her from high school. Or does she?

Joanna now helps people as a nurse and thinks always of others first. Or does she?

Early on, the screenplay (by first-time script writer Moe Jelline) tips us off that Joanna is playing Marni for a chump.

She's not the only one with unsettled high school issues.

When Marni's mom Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) meets Joanna's closest surviving relative rich Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), the flashbacks go crazy!

The former best friends in high school suffered a falling out during senior prom. Old resentments bubble to Gail's surface every time Ramona shows up and tries to trump her on everything she does or wears.

To its credit, "You Again" tries to avoid a simple-minded plot with easy villains by posing the idea that everybody who attended high school has lingering resentments - real or imagined - even the Joannas and Ramonas of the world.

But Fickman's dulling direction kills any chance that "You Again" might achieve a respectable degree of movie mediocrity.

Fickman apparently possesses a defective dumbness detector, so we get a scene in which Marni's brother (Bill Unger) loosens the bolts holding up a backyard treehouse so it can fall apart at a predetermined moment. (Because people who want to dismantle tree houses always loosen bolts and just leave them?)

Kristin Chenoweth supplies some good humor as a showgirl wedding planner, but Kyle Bornheimer practically steals the movie as Tim, a schlubby guy who carries a comically weepie torch for Joanna.

Oh, yeah. Betty White also stars in "You Again" as Marni's Grandma Bunny, an utterly thankless role.

White's two jobs are to gets laughs from sexually suggestive come-ons and to set up the ending scene, one that the woman sitting to my left at Tuesday night's press screening predicted about 20 minutes into the story.

Cue the vinyl record scratch cliché that signifies a mistake.

It's in the movie, too.

"You Again"

Rating: ★

Starring: Kristin Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White, Odette Yustman

Directed by: Andy Fickman

Other: A Walt Disney release. Rated PG. 105 minutes