SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW
Starring: Alison Brie, Jay Ellis, Kiersey Clemons, Danny Pudi, Olga Merediz, Haley Joel Osment, Julie Hagerty, and Ayden Mayeri
Director: Dave Franco
Somebody I Used to Know struggles mightily to find its groove. There are 30 minutes in the second act where the film is what the trailer promised, an uneasy romance about Alison Brie seeing her ex-boyfriend (Jay Ellis) on his wedding weekend. Ellis plays these romantic conundrums well (see Insecure), and Kiersey Clemons is electric as his fiancé, so I’m not sure why it focused on Brie being the shittiest human possible stuck in awkward comedic situations akin to American Pie. The conflicting tones and unlikable (read: uninteresting) lead killed any momentum the engaged couple sporadically brought to this unappealing film.
Somebody I Used to Know deserves its props for trying to do something outside the traditional rom-com format. That said, it provides mixed results. On the technical side, Dave Franco continues to show some promise as a director; however, with questionable decisions for many of the characters, I was hard pressed to root for anyone. The marketing also hurt it because the trailer teased a direction that would have served the story well, yet it is never fully realized. Honestly, it’s a bit of a disappointment by the end. However, I couldn’t help but enjoy the Community reunion of Alison Brie and Danny Pudi.
Somebody I Used to Know is definitely not your run-of-the-mill rom-com. Tonally, it’s a little all over the place, but at its core is a film about self-worth and love. It’s refreshing to get adult-like coming-of-age stories that many can relate too. Yes, it has its cute, light-hearted rom-com beats, but when director Dave Franco digs into the overall message of the film, that’s where it shines the brightest. Overall, it’s a cute little gem that starts off a little rough around the edges, but cruises along quite gracefully once it finds its groove.
Despite the cast’s chemistry, Somebody I Used to Know can be summed up in two words, contemptuously uttered by Kiersey Clemons’ character about our “hero,” Ally (Alison Brie): “…dis bitch.” Like many rom-com protagonists, Ally is a terrible person. Her aim is to break up an engagement mostly to make herself feel better, and since the film’s tone is closer to pseudo-serious dramedy than charming comedy, it makes for an ickier version of My Best Friend’s Wedding. It’s not a bad movie at all, and it’s nice to see Community alum Brie and Danny Pudi reunited on screen, but it’s a hard story to root for.
Mix My Best Friend’s Wedding with a Hallmark romance, throw in Allison Brie, and you get Somebody I Used to Know. It’s a mess of a movie that fails to be romantic, funny, or even likable. There’s no charm, little humor, and awkward character traits and backstory. However, I think Brie is the main issue because it’s hard for me to buy her as a small town girl. She never fits in with the rest of the movie, and it weighs everything and everyone else down substantially. It’s a huge miss that fails to entertain on most every level.