Movie Review: Somebody I Used To Know

When you’re locked down due to a pandemic, what’s a Hollywood couple to do? For Dave Franco (THE DISASTER ARTIST) and Alison Brie (SPIN ME ROUND; THE RENTAL), it’s write (both), direct (him) and star (her) in a new movie that is a riff on the 1997 romcom, MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING. After watching SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, some viewers may feel that the couple’s time would have been better spent learning how to make sourdough bread.

In SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, Brie plays Ally, a showrunner for a reality TV show that isn’t as popular as it once was. When she is informed that the show won’t be picked up for a fourth season, she packs up both a bag and her cat, and heads home to Leavenworth, Washington, where she hasn’t been in ten years, to reevaluate her career in television. Barely home a few hours, she runs into Sean (Jay Ellis, TOP GUN: MAVERICK), the ex-boyfriend she dumped when she went off to Los Angeles. Their relationship gets rekindled, but the next day Ally finds out the hard way that Sean is going to marry his girlfriend, punk rock singer Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons, ANTEBELLUM), that very weekend. Confiding in their mutual friend, Benny (Danny Pudi, TV’s COMMUNITY), Ally decides to break the couple up before the nuptials begin but, as she gets to know Cassidy, she realizes that Cassidy is a lot like she used to be.

Yes, if you’ve seen MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW feels a lot like déjà vu. Franco and Brie were well aware that they were treading on familiar territory as they even reference the Julia Roberts film in their story. The biggest difference between the two films is that SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW is a fair bit raunchier, which is not a good thing. Ally’s mother, Libby (Julie Hagerty, INSTANT FAMILY), hasn’t lost her libido, as Ally witnesses a few times, and Ally, for her part, seems to be a latent nudist. I can’t see Roberts baring it all for the camera but Brie is cool doing so. You go, girl! While the story does tease some interesting possibilities regarding Cassidy’s bisexuality and her parental issues, Franco and Brie jettison these developments minutes after they’re introduced leaving audiences with a stale clone.

The big angle with the story is supposed to be that Hollywood has caused Ally to stray away from her true self and only once she meets Cassidy does she realize what she really wants. That’s all well and good if only Ally wouldn’t have been as manipulative toward the people she supposedly cares about as she is with the contestants on her reality show. Ally, for some reason, believes that getting back together with her ex will bring her happiness even though his life is deeply rooted in Leavenworth and hers in Los Angeles. Rather than saying to herself, “If I’m going to get what I want in life then I need to change”, she’s very busy telling Sean that he needs to change and telling Cassidy that she doesn’t need to change. Ally is truly an awful person but Franco and Brie want audiences to feel for her as she tries to sabotage everyone else’s happiness for the sake of her own.

Heady stuff indeed which, again, doesn’t get the analysis it deserves. Instead, Franco and Brie attempt to keep things light by throwing in some comic relief in the form of Sean’s brother, Jeremy (Haley Joel Osment, THE SIXTH SENSE), who does the worm at the pre-wedding party. Sadly, the former child star’s efforts to make something out of a character that seems to have been an afterthought come across as desperate and pathetic.

Strangely, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW is doing better with critics than with audiences. I’m with the audiences on this one. This film could have gone in interesting directions but instead followed a path that someone else took 26 years ago and did much better.

SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW is available now on Amazon Prime. Your time will be better spent learning how to make sourdough bread.

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