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You Again

In Disney's new comedy, old grudges die hard.


You Again (PG)

Anyone who suffered ridicule or bullying in adolescence will relate to the plot of Disney's latest comedy, You Again, though my bet is that there won't be a lot of males in the audience. Nevertheless, all those female viewers, drawn in by the ginormous lady star power featured here, will be disappointed in their on-screen interplay, which just doesn't live up to its comic promise.

You Again opens with a pimply-faced, stringy-haired high school student named Marni (Kristen Bell), recounting the torture she has suffered at the hands of mean girls, particularly from a cheerleader named J.J. (Odette Yustman). Flash forward 10 years, and Marni has morphed into a beautiful blonde public relations executive who has just returned home for her handsome big brother's wedding. The bride-to-be turns out to be none other than J.J., now by all appearances a kind-hearted nurse named Joanna who conveniently seems to have completely forgotten the past. Intent upon stopping her brother from moving ahead with the marriage, Marni sets out to expose J.J. for the cruel, shallow, conniving person she remembers from high school. Meanwhile, Marni's mother (also a former cheerleader), played by Jamie Lee Curtis, meets Joanna's aunt (Sigourney Weaver) and recognizes her own high school nemesis. Ditto the grandmothers (Betty White and Cloris Leachman).

The rest of the movie is a series of scenes in which various pairings of the women wrestle — at times literally — to seek revenge for wrongs long past. Watching Curtis, at 52, assume pom-pom poses is indeed a lot of fun, as is seeing her and Weaver, in wedding attire, all wet after they throw each other into a pool.  But the script, written by newcomer Moe Jelline, is filled with hit-you-over-the-head lines way beneath the comic masters that deliver them.  Even Betty White, who can launch a laugh fest by taking a bite of a Snickers bar, seems unable to improvise her signature wisecracks, though in one scene she does fire off a hilarious comment about deleting a wedding guest from her cell phone.

Yes, old grudges died hard, but You Again sends the message that we're not always who we once were.  That's not a bad lesson to take away from this movie, even if it doesn't leave you in stitches.

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