You Again almost gleefully aims for the bottom of the barrel, jettisoning everything from consistency of character to every last ounce of dignity once possessed by its cast (Jamie Lee Curtis is particularly hard to watch; you don’t know if you want to offer a consoling hug or merely put her out of her misery). I’ve often complained about movies that feel like they were written by screenwriting computer programs and You Again is no different than its many preceding offenders; Moe Jeline’s script reeks of paint-by-numbers gutlessness, cobbled together out of musty clichés as it pussyfoots around themes of revenge and high school-instilled psychosis with nary enough depth to get a toe wet, all the while buying into overlapping values of materialism and selflessness that, to the film’s lone credit, reflect less in the way of a creative schism than they do the heavily contradicted culture that spawned the movie in the first place. Kristen Bell is Marni, a former high school outcast who makes the horrifying discovery that her brother, Will (James Wolk), is going to marry her former mean-girl rival, Joanna (Odette Yustman). Marni’s mother Gail (Curtis) assures her that the past isn’t worth fretting about, but fails to do the same when her own former nemesis, Joanna’s aunt, Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), arrives for the festivities. And so it goes.
Concerning such endless cycles of human frustration, You Again‘s shallow hysteria barely counts as existential lip service (I kept thinking of Chuck Jones’s One Froggy Evening as a distant antithesis to this train wreck). Poorly conceived (and executed) slapstick, vainly contrived dance numbers, and disproportionate displays of idiocy are less in the way of comedic meat and potatoes than they are a watered-down broth intended to stretch things out to the feature-length mark. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become friends, hugs will be shared, lessons will be learned, and impromptu rap numbers will be executed. Had the film flown off the handle a little more frequently and with a little more zeal, it might have come off as a halfhearted attempt at dadaist insanity. Instead, You Again doesn’t even qualify as half-assed.