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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

You Again

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

The phrase "best friends forever" (BFF) takes on a whole new meaning in "You Again" (Disney/Touchstone), an entertaining, multigenerational comedy in which grown-ups find it hard to leave the dramas—and traumas—of their teen years behind.

Amid the resurgence of teen angst and unresolved conflicts, the film offers refreshingly positive messages about the importance of family, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Twenty-something Marni (Kristen Bell) seemingly has it all: looks, confidence, and a dream job. But appearances are deceiving; Marni flies home for the wedding of her brother, Will (Jimmy Wolk), only to discover that he is marrying Joanna (Odette Yustman), the girl who constantly terrorized her in high school.

In flashbacks, we learn that Marni was a "Class 1 Geek," and that Joanna was the self-proclaimed warden of the "prison" she called grades 9-12. Marni relives the ridicule she thought she had left far behind. "High school was a horror movie," she says. "This wedding weekend is the sequel."

Eight years have passed since graduation, and Joanna is now a respected nurse and pillar of the community as well as a beloved future member of Marni's family. Joanna claims not to remember Marni, but Marni is not convinced. She sets out to prove that people do not change. "Who you are in high school determines who you are for the rest of your life," Marni intones.

It seems no one can escape high school, not even the older generation. Marni's mother, Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis), discovers that Joanna's aunt, Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), is her student-era best friend-turned-rival whom she hasn't seen in decades. Though content in her role as family matriarch, Gail grows to resent the twice-divorced hotel heiress Ramona.

Both actresses enjoy hamming it up with sparring matches that recall scenes on the primetime TV dramas "Dynasty" and "Dallas"—a parallel reinforced when their shared high school sweetheart, Richie (none other than Patrick Duffy), turns up.

Then there's Grandma Bunny, played by the ubiquitous Betty White, who has issues of her own. In addition to flirting with every younger man in sight, Grandma needs help putting in her dentures, an incident that provides one of the film's gross-out moments.

Beyond the catfights, dance competitions, cheerleading demonstrations, karaoke and wedding planning, "You Again" takes time to offer solid advice on forgiveness. "Everyone deserves a second chance," Gail tells Marni, urging her to accept the past and move on. "We are our experiences. They made you into the woman you are today."

Though directed with a light touch by Andy Fickman ("Race to Witch Mountain"), so much is going on in "You Again"—what with dishes being hurled through the air and characters falling into swimming pools—that viewers may sympathize with Gail's husband, Mark (Victor Garber), who throws up his hands and exclaims, "I've not the slightest clue how things work in the girl world."

The film contains mild slapstick violence and some double-entendres. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.




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Oliver Plunkett: The name of today's saint is especially familiar to the Irish and the English—and with good reason. The English martyred Oliver Plunkett for defending the faith in his native Ireland during a period of severe persecution. 
<p>Born in County Meath in 1629, he studied for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained there in 1654. After some years of teaching and service to the poor of Rome he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland. Four years later, in 1673, a new wave of anti-Catholic persecution began, forcing Archbishop Plunkett to do his pastoral work in secrecy and disguise and to live in hiding. Meanwhile, many of his priests were sent into exile; schools were closed; Church services had to be held in secret and convents and seminaries were suppressed. As archbishop, he was viewed as ultimately responsible for any rebellion or political activity among his parishioners. 
</p><p>Archbishop Plunkett was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in 1679, but his trial was moved to London. After deliberating for 15 minutes, a jury found him guilty of fomenting revolt. He was hanged, drawn and quartered in July 1681. 
</p><p>Pope Paul VI canonized Oliver Plunkett in 1975.</p> American Catholic Blog Evil will always exist, and it will enter our lives unexpectedly and without consent. But how deeply that darkness will touch us is up to us; our will is our own. The dark affects our bodies but not necessarily our souls. Our lives can be taken. But they can also be given.

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