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You Again Blu-ray & DVD Review

You Again (2010) movie poster You Again

Theatrical Release: October 8, 2010 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Andy Fickman / Writer: Moe Jelline / Songs List

Cast: Kristen Bell (Marni Olivia Olsen), Jamie Lee Curtis (Gail Olsen), Sigourney Weaver (Ramona), Odette Yustman (Joanna "J.J." Clark), Victor Garber (Mark Olsen), Betty White (Grandma Bunny), Jimmy Wolk (Will Olsen), Kristin Chenoweth (Georgia King), Sean Wing (Charlie), Kyle Bornheimer (Tim), Billy Unger (Ben Olsen), Christine Lakin (Taylor), Meagan Holder (Kendall), Patrick Duffy (Richie Phillips), Reginald VelJohnson (Mason Dunlevy), Ashley Fink (Sunday), Jenna Leigh Green (Heather), Daryl Hall (Himself), John Oates (Himself), Brittany Wilkinson (Teenage Gail), Anne Winfree (Teenage Ramona), Chopper (Coco Puff), Dwayne Johnson (Air Marshal - uncredited), Cloris Leachman (Helen Sullivan - uncredited)

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The Touchstone Pictures of today is but a hollow shell of its former self. The banner that the Walt Disney Company launched in 1984 to create serious and adult movies quickly found critical and financial success with films like Splash, The Color of Money, Ruthless People, Good Morning, Vietnam and Three Men and a Baby.
Scaled back as part of a change in the Disney Studios' company philosophy, Touchstone no longer even has an official website. But it did release five films in 2010, its most since 2006.

There was Nicholas Sparks' The Last Song, hoping that Miley Cyrus could be taken seriously; Julie Taymor's The Tempest, which assumed the banner so as not to depart with the Miramax Films name; and Step Up 3D. The remaining two were a pair of female-friendly comedies starring Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars", Forgetting Sarah Marshall). The former of these, When in Rome, surrounded Bell with male suitors. The latter, You Again, cast the actress in the company of three generations of famous women with co-stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Odette Yustman, and the beloved Betty White.

You Again marks the third directorial outing at Disney for Andy Fickman, who previously gave us the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson duds The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain. The Johnson streak continues as the former wrestler makes an uncredited appearance early on, the first of many notable cameos here. But this movie belongs to the women, Bell most of all.

Marni Olsen (Kristen Bell) illustrates to her PR agency how she's gone from high school geek to professional chic. To Marni's chagrin, Joanna (Odette Yustman), her teenaged tormentor turned potential sister-in-law, sings along to Queen's "We Are the Champions" on a drive with her fiancι (Jimmy Wolk).

The film opens in May of 2002 when Marni Olivia Olsen (Bell) is wrapping up high school as an outcast. She wears braces, her face is covered with acne, her hairdo is apparently more like a hairdon't, and the barnyard ring to her initials makes it a common taunt from the mean, cool kids. Queen among them is J.J. Clark (Yustman), head cheerleader, prom queen, and vicious bully. Flash-forward to the present day and Marni is, of course, doing much better. Her skin has cleared up, the braces are gone, and her hair is more fabulous. She is also successful in her big city PR job.

Flying back home to meet her brother's fiancιe and attend their wedding, Marni is shocked to discover that the much-admired Joanna her family keeps discussing is none other than the J.J. who made high school hell for Marni. Joanna seems to live up to the admiration; she is a nurse who devotes time to many benevolent causes. But she claims she cannot remember Marni from their small high school. While Marni hasn't made the former classmates' history known (and, somehow, nobody else has), she is not quite ready to forgive and forget. Convinced that Joanna's new good girl image is an act, Marni seeks a sincere apology and, short of that, considers exposing the bride-to-be for the tormentor she was.

Meanwhile, similar history hangs over Marni's mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Joanna's guardian aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), friends turned enemies as high school classmates in the 1970s. And, of course, Betty White kindly does her now-standard sassy geezer shtick, as the hip grandmother who knows about things like Facebook and Twitter.

High school besties turned enemies, the groom's mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the bride's aunt (Sigourney Weaver) try to remain friendly while unexpectedly wearing the same dress to the rehearsal dinner. Kyle Bornheimer supplies laughs as Tim, a weird dance studio owner not over being dumped by Joanna.

I keep wanting to call You Again a romantic comedy. It's not, but it certainly has the feel of one, with its distaff-skewing cast and comparable target demographic. As it centers on a wedding, there are obviously romantic aspects to it, but Marni's brother Will (Jimmy Wolk) takes a bit of a backseat to the same-sex rivalries.
The most similarly-designed recent movie I can think of is the scorned Kate Hudson/Anne Hathaway comedy Bride Wars. Fortunately, You Again is quite a bit better than that one, though not all that different in its comic sensibilities.

You Again is fairly amusing, especially in its first half as it takes the time to spell out the complicated character relationships. The design could have easily been one-note, but first-time screenwriter Moe Jelline avoids drawing characters as either heroine or villain. While we have more sympathy for the Olsens, the Clarks are not without their charms, particularly Weaver's enviable divorcιe. At 105 minutes, this runs sixteen minutes longer than Bride Wars and about sixteen minutes longer than it needs to. The destination is inevitable, which makes the prolonged mush to reach it a drag and a chore.

Nonetheless, there are also several sufficient diversions along the way. Familiar songs are used with inspiration; Queen's "We Are the Champions" and Heart's "Barracuda" become the antagonistic respective theme songs of Joanna and her aunt. Kyle Bornheimer is amusingly odd as Joanna's still-healing ex Tim, who the movie gives enough screentime to make his comic mark. Fans of classic horror might appreciate the sight of Alien's Ellen Ripley and Halloween's Laurie Strode going toe-to-toe (and who would guess that nine years separate the two actresses?). Then there are all those cameos, from sitcom dads ("Family Matters"' Reginald VelJohnson, "Step by Step"'s Patrick Duffy) to Hall & Oates (as respected as ever by contemporary comedies), with Cloris Leachman in between.

And yes, I realize that Duffy may be better known for an earlier TV series, but I'm sticking with that reference, in part because his sitcom daughter Christine Lakin holds a supporting role here, as she has in three of the last four movies directed by Fickman, her boyfriend. Fellow Stepper Staci Keanan is also here (miscredited as "Stacy"), playing "Dana", no less, though she's barely visible in the finale, aside from Duffy's Lambert family reunion of a photo credit.

The typical caveats about broad physical gags (of which there are many), half-baked ideas, and overscoring still apply here and help explain why You Again got mostly unfavorable reviews. I suppose if I had to force myself to choose between a thumb up or down, a fresh or rotten tomato, I'd probably refrain from endorsing the movie. But entering it with a low regard for Fickman's work and with Bell's When in Rome ranking among the worst of the nearly 100 of last year's movies that I've seen, I can muster no hate for You Again.

Wedding planner Georgia King (Kristin Chenoweth) makes a grand entrance before the Olsen-Clark wedding party, dancing to The Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It."

One thing that some viewers will appreciate is that You Again deserves its PG rating, if the MPAA-cited "brief mild language and rude behavior" even calls for that. There is no objectionable content here, but there is also no sign of creative restraint or forced sanitation.

As for Touchstone, entering into a distribution deal to handle the live-action output of Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Pictures seems to relieve Disney from creating more content for its non-Disney brands. The division's next in-house picture is Gnomeo & Juliet, a film that was to have carried Miramax's sold name. "Touchstone" now gives it deliberate distance from the recovering Disney animation brand.

One of the projects that could have ended up labeled "Disney", You Again receives home video treatment like films carrying the name, releasing on DVD and a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack next Tuesday.

You Again Blu-ray + DVD cover art -- click to buy combo pack from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: DTS-HD 5.1 (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled and Captioned
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in Standalone DVD ($29.99)
Get 4 Disney Movies for $1.99 Each, Free Shipping!

VIDEO and AUDIO

Some will knock points off of You Again's presentation simply because it doesn't offer dazzling locations and spectacle. But I can't find a single thing wrong with the DVD's sharp, vibrant 2.40:1 widescreen picture. That isn't a huge surprise; the majority of new major studio fare looks great on my HDTV via progressive scan. Still, it's appreciated. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is every bit as satisfying, utilizing the full range to provide manipulative score and inspired "needle drops" alike.

Director Andy Fickman ranks himself against John Huston, not deprecating himself quite as much as he ought to. Jamie Lee Curtis rides the silk in this deleted scene, one of three to make the DVD.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

You Again's DVD contains just four brief bonus features, but they are unusually entertaining, easily surpassing the film itself in amusing moments per minute.

"Following Fickman: On Set with the Director" (7:04) begins with actors praising Andy Fickman. It slowly won me back from there as it revealed the director and his actors to have a sense of humor and perspective about the movie they're making. With the behind-the-scenes horseplay it captures, it kind of plays like a gag reel turned into a featurette. Appropriately, it entertains more than informs.

Fickman introduces three short deleted scenes (5:10), two of which are slight extensions. The other finds Jamie Lee Curtis "riding the silk" at Kristin Chenoweth's dance studio. Fickman's collective intro and outro leads you to expect more than what is found here. In fact, the Blu-ray Disc adds eight additional deletions (some with Betty White!, according to the combo's cover sticker), for which there was ample room to include on DVD.

What a wacky old gal! Betty White gives some questionable advice to viewers in "Ask the Cast." Verbal sparring breaks out among the cast of "You Again" in this amusing Funny or Die short. Crumpled paper forms the backdrop to the stills and clips of the DVD's main menu.

"Ask the Cast" (1:20) finds Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, and Betty White answering questions from viewers, with White's responses being (expectedly) unexpectedly edgy. I'm not sure where this is from.

There is no such question regarding "Funny or Die" (3:00), a clip from the website whose address stays onscreen throughout. This amusing sketch gathers four of the film's actresses (Odette Yustman replaces Curtis from the prior lineup) to answer an interviewer's questions.
Fickman intrudes the shoot to interject, and vocal fighting breaks out among the ladies over each's star power. Though it seems a little cute at first, it does end up earning its "Chosen One" status on the site and stands as the funniest thing on this disc. Disney isn't one to lease extras and I don't think I've seen a Funny or Die clip on any other DVDs, so this is a special treat.

Besides the extra deleted scenes, the Blu-ray also contains a "Blooper Dance Party", which apparently runs 5 minutes and, therefore, easily could have also fit on the well under capacity DVD.

The DVD's loud main menu plays clips, pops up cut-out stills, and cycles through stills while score prominently plays. The submenus share the volume discrepancy but with less or no animation.

The DVD automatically plays promos for Disney Blu-ray, DreamWorks' I Am Number Four, Secretariat, and Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure. The menu's Sneak Peeks listing runs ads for Gnomeo & Juliet, Bambi: Diamond Edition, "Pretty Little Liars", Tangled, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.

The standard blue Blu-ray case places the colorful Blu-ray disc and gray DVD on opposite sides, with a booklet promoting Blu-ray covering up the DVD. The case is topped with an embossed slipcover that devotes the second spine to... Betty White (the left one strangely goes to Curtis).

Clearly, Marni (Kristen Bell) and Joanna (Odette Yustman) have a ways to go before making peace.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

After the modest theatrical performances of her two 2010 Touchstone comedies, big-or-bust Disney probably isn't in a rush to sign up Kristen Bell for more lead roles. However, much bigger names have fared much worse at the box office and, especially here, Bell shares the blame with her castmates. Not that the movie itself demands blame. You Again is better than When in Rome and better than I expected. Though this light, predictable comedy is prone to many common pitfalls, it remains adequately diverting much of the time.

The DVD needlessly is missing most of the Blu-ray's deleted scenes and a blooper dance party, but its small supply of extras is unusually entertaining (especially the Funny or Die short). If you think you'd enjoy a comedy like this, I'd encourage a rental. It may not be a good movie but if you're limiting yourself to recent comedies for and by ladies, you aren't likely to do much better than this.

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Related Reviews:
New: Glee: Season 2, Volume 1 • Mean Girls 2 • Beauty & the Briefcase • Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 • Life As We Know It • Secretariat
2010 Touchstone Pictures: When in Rome • Step Up 3 • The Last Song | Directed by Andy Fickman: Race to Witch Mountain • The Game Plan
2010 Comedies: She's Out of My League • Dinner for Schmucks • Going the Distance • The Back-up Plan • Easy A • The Kids Are All Right
Betty White: Hot in Cleveland: Season One • The Proposal • The Golden Girls (Seasons 1-7) • The Golden Girls: Lifetime Intimate Portrait Series
Jamie Lee Curtis: Freaky Friday (2003) • Beverly Hills Chihuahua | Sigourney Weaver: Galaxy Quest (Deluxe) • Avatar (Extended) • The TV Set
Odette Yustman: And Soon the Darkness • Cloverfield • October Road: The Complete First Season • Operation: Endgame
Kristin Chenoweth: Four Christmases • 12 Men of Christmas | Victor Garber: Eli Stone: The Complete First Season

You Again Songs List (in order of use): Queen - "We Are the Champions", Heart - "Barracuda", Daryl Hall & John Oates - "Kiss on My List", Brittany Burton - "I'll Go On", Shaun Ruymen - "Full of U", Black Eyed Peas - "Pump It" (featuring Dick Dale and His Deltones - "Misirlou"), Kreesha Turner - "Bounce With Me", Sixpence None the Richer - "Kiss Me", Britney Spears - "Toxic", Jackie Tohn - "What is Love", Charles Brotman and Elmer Lim, Jr. - "Magic of Maui", Andy Suzuki - "By the Time You Forget", Perry Danos - "Paris Without You", Charles Blaker and Kevin Hiatt - "Dinner 4 Deux", Ali Dee and the Deekompressors - "Jump", "Every Woman in the World", Chic featuring Nile Rodgers - "We Are Family", Connie Francis - "Who's Sorry Now"

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Reviewed February 4, 2011.



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