On a trip to her hometown, workaholic Ally reminisces with her ex Sean and starts to question everything about the person she’s become. Things only get more confusing when she meets Cassidy, who reminds her of the person she used to be.

Chuck says:

I wanted to like Dave Franco’s “Somebody I Used to Know,” I really did.  The cast is appealing, the Pacific Northwest setting is arresting, and the running time is a reasonable 105 minutes.  That its attractive star, Alison Brie, has a streaking scene is certainly a plus as well. Yet, these positive aspects aren’t enough to negate the film’s lack of originality or its tepid pacing, the story simply plodding along from one predictable plot point to the next. That the actors involved are guilty of the same, doesn’t help.

Having penned the script together, you have to at least give Franco and Brie credit for at least acknowledging the film they’re stealing from – no wait, I’m sure it’s a homage – which happens to be “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” To be sure, there are far worse movies you can use as a template for your own, yet the difference between “Somebody” and its source material is night and day – one inspired, the other labored.

Brie is Ally, a Hollywood producer who has always put work first and finds herself reeling when her reality television show is unexpectedly cancelled. Realizing that doing shots of tequila and talking to her cat won’t cure her woes, she decides to gather her bearings and heads home to visit her mother (the wasted Julie Hagerty). Her hometown, Leavenworth, Oregon is a lumberjack’s paradise, surrounded by vast forests, bubbling rivers and a mountain or two nearby. It also happens to contain Ally’s ex, Sean (Jay Ellis), who she just happens to run into. A whole evening of catching up spills into a morning of revelations and before you know it, our heroine begins to think that maybe, just maybe, she left something important behind on the way to pursuing her dreams.

Showing up, dressed to kill and unannounced on Sean’s doorstep the next day, Ally quickly realizes she’s made a big mistake. A pre-wedding feast is underway, Sean’s family, friends, and fiancée Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons) in attendance. That the groom-to-be failed to mention this event would occur this particular weekend to his old flame is telling. Ally reads this loud and clear and decides to disrupt the proceedings and muddle Sean’s feelings to her advantage.

Thankfully, the machinations our heroine goes through to gum up the works aren’t too outlandish, while an interesting tension develops between Ally and Cassidy that yields some intriguing moments. Unlike the Cameron Diaz character in “Wedding,” Cassidy understands exactly what her rival’s intentions are and she gives as good as she gets, keeping Sean’s attention while maintaining a sense of independence, unwilling to compromise her career simply because she’s getting married.  There’s a missed opportunity here, as this character is so dynamic, she deserves a few more scenes, if not her own movie.

Interestingly, Franco and Brie put forth the possibility of a radical third-act twist but fail to develop it. Had they gone down this path, “Somebody” would have been truly special but their adherence to a well-worn rom-com formula dooms the film from the start. They rely on jokes akin to Ally walking in on her mother and a former high school teacher of hers having sex again and again. And yet, it might have worked had there been any chemistry between Brie and Ellis. Unfortunately, while the two actors do their best to create a spark between them, it’s just not there.  “A pleasant timewaster” is perhaps the most backhanded compliment any entertainment can receive, yet “Somebody” fails to reach that modest level of competence, proving to be  just a waste of time.

2 Stars

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