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Ex-geek discovers that her high school hate-figure is about to marry her brother
If Heathers was a bitter, heart-racing double-shot espresso then this Disneyfied post-high school comedy is a skinny decaf cappuccino with extra froth and spoonfuls of saccharine. Although she is now the successful vice president of a famous public relations firm, twentysomething Marni (Kristen Bell) cannot forget or forgive the myriad high school humiliations heaped upon her by über babe Joanna (Odette Yustman) and her cruel cheerleader clique - back when Marni was the awkward, bespectacled, acne-faced poster girl for the geek squad.
So, faced with the imminent marriage of her brother Will (James Wolk) to her arch nemesis, Marni's reaction is pithy and to the point: "High school was a horror movie. This weekend is the sequel." And since the seemingly reformed Joanna is now a card-carrying do-gooder who volunteers for a suicide helpline, Marni is finding it hard to expose the emotional terrorist lurking behind her ex-tormentor's false smile. Like the rest of Marni's family, her mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) is captivated by Joanna, even though Gail and the orphaned girl's aunt, Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), have some unresolved high school history of their own.
Played as a hard farce, with a sharp satirical bite and fewer sick-making homilies about family happiness, this might not have degenerated insipid, corny sentimentality. Instead, everything about this sanitised comedy rings false, from the contrivances of the TV sitcom-style plot to virtually self-contained musical numbers, most of which push the embarrassment meter up to eleven, while referencing 80s music (Daryl Hall and John Oates?!) that was popular before either of the female antagonists were born. Director Andy Flickman's next project is a stage musical version of Heathers, the ne plus ultra of dark, subversive high school movies. On this evidence nobody on Earth could be less suited to that task.
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