There's an entire genre of films that can be neatly summed up by the following three words: high school sucks. Because it usually does, but as common wisdom goes, we grow up and get over it, for better or worse. In the movies, this means acne clears up, glasses are traded for contacts, weight is lost or redistributed in a more socially acceptable manner, and awesome careers are the rewards for all those hours spent in the library.
'You Again's heroine Marni is supposed to be proof of this. As high school Marni, Kristen Bell is decorated with fake acne, stringy hair, glasses, terrible coordination, and braces. Fast forward eight years or so, and she's a glowing publicist, an ironic job for someone who should have learned long ago that image isn't everything. Unfortunately, all that success and experience accrued go out the window when she finds out her perfect older brother Will (Jimmy Wolk) is marrying the cheerleader who made Marni's life hell in high school. Everyone in her family, including the dog, adores Joanna (Odette Yustman), who pretends not to remember Marni. Marni's mom Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) is full of empty platitudes about forgiving and forgetting, until Joanna's Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) shows up on the scene. See, part of Joanna's rebirth as a saintly nurse who volunteers for a suicide hotline, etc., is that her parents died, and Ramona has stepped in to fill their shoes. Except Ramona was once Gail's nemesis, and so these two grown women also regress to their most base high school instincts.
What follows is a desultory and confusing attempt to make pratfalls, catfights, and confessions add up to some sort of big lesson. For some reason, we're supposed to believe that chipper, slightly dippy Gail was the prom queen and the homecoming queen and the lead cheerleader, and left Ramona to eat her dust. Now it's the opposite since Ramona is so incredibly wealthy and successful while Gail is "just" a housewife, but actually Ramona confesses that she's lonely and envies Gail's family, and in her aggressive attempts to outrun her former frenemy, has instead missed out. And then they hug.
Will's a great big brother but never notices that his future wife is the one torturing his baby sister on the basketball court. (Marni is the mascot, Will's the basketball star, and Joanna is the lead cheerleader who pushes Marni into Will's way during a game). His best friend is the one who helps Marni up even when she's, like, so ugly, and of course he's the best man at the wedding, so fill in the blanks. It's hilarious that Grandma Bunny (Betty White) might still have a sex drive despite the fact that she has dentures -- and she Twitters! Sometimes Joanna is super-nice to Marni, even when they're alone, but sometimes she's really mean, but she's also so sad and wants to be a better person because her parents died and stuff.
It's impossible to be as simplistic as 'You Again' is and still show in any meaningful way that people are more complicated than whether or not they were mean in high school. Unfortunately, Moe Jelline's script tries to do just that and ends up with a confusing mess that also wastes what could be a decent cast. Bell can do more than rote physical comedy, and Lee Curtis can do more than be a sort of boring mom. The only person who is given anything somewhat interesting or funny to do is Weaver, who is always sizzling just underneath her cool exterior. One of the only clever lines in the movie refers to Curtis' scream queen past: "High school was a horror movie, and this is the sequel." Which also pretty much sums up 'You Again.'