Now THIS is why married couples should work together!
When you watch a movie there’s often a lot of indecisiveness. A lot of back and forth about whether what you’re watching is enjoyable, insufferable or somewhere in the middle. If the movie is something you can’t wait to rewatch a thousand times or never endure again. If you’re lucky, you’ll know how you feel about the movie right off the bat. That’s always great because if you hate the movie you can turn it off right away and avoid a viewing of prolonged torture. More often than not though it isn’t until the very end of a movie that your feelings for it are made clear. I enjoyed Somebody I Used to Know (2023) from start to finish but I knew that it was something really special when in the movie’s closing seconds, I found myself to have a big smile spreading across my face.
Directed by Dave Franco and co-written by he and his wife Alison Brie (who also plays the lead role), Somebody I Used to Know follows Ally, a reality television producer who takes a trip back to her hometown after the cancellation of her show. There she reunites with her ex Sean who makes her question the type of person she’s become. Things get more complicated when she discovers Sean is marrying Cassidy, a woman who reminds Ally of the person she used to be.
I’m a huge admirer of Franco and Brie both as actors and as a couple. They’re an adorable and lovely couple that are fantastically funny and charming both on and off screen. I love that they teamed up to create a romantic-comedy that is wholly their brain child! The couple previously worked together on Franco’s directorial debut, the horror / thriller movie The Rental (2020) which as an enormous fan of horror, I was seriously impressed with. I appreciate that while Franco easily could have followed up his debut with another horror movie, he chose something completely different in tone from The Rental.
With this foray into the dramedy genre, Franco proves himself to be a more than competent director. Great pacing, truly beautiful shots and solid writing kept me intrigued in this original story from beginning to end. Writing-wise, Brie and Franco have taken the best parts of rom-coms and put them into Somebody I Used to Know. For example, both Ally and Sean have super cute parents which is one of the hallmarks of a great rom-com in my opinion. The movie somehow possesses both a dynamic and cozy quality to it, making for a movie that is thoroughly a joy to watch. Both Brie and Franco should be proud of the multiple hats they wear for this movie.
Somebody I Used to Know starts off as much more of a comedy and then as the the plot thickens veers more into dramatic territory. The focus on a protagonist who does some soul-searching and attempts to reshape their life is a narrative favourite of mine and the way Somebody I Used to Know employs it reminds me of one of my favourite movies, Bridesmaids (2011). Especially because of the cute setting! Almost every scene in this idyllic setting conveys both beauty and charm and I would absolutely love to spend a weekend trip in this world. Ally and Sean have one of the most adorable date nights I’ve ever seen in movie and my single ass was moved. It helps that Brie and Jay Ellis have a strong chemistry that sells their relationship.
That being said, there isn’t a single cast member in Somebody I Used to Know that Brie doesn’t have good chemistry with, a testament to just how wonderful an actress she is. I’ve seen Brie in enough projects now to expect her to be a reliable actress both comedically and dramatically so her fantastic performance in Somebody I Used to Know comes as no surprise. She is especially gifted at physical comedy. I suppose that comes from six seasons of doing a wild sitcom like Community (2009 – 2015). Speaking of, it is so much fun to see Brie and former Community co-star Danny Pudi sharing the screen again! He is so lovably goofy and I would relish seeing Pudi in more rom-coms, either as the comedic best friend or the lead himself!
The only true gripe I had with Somebody I Used to Know is that the premise is listed as “Ally finds out her ex is with someone similar to who she used to be” and at 34 minutes in the movie does not properly express that. If you go into the movie blindly than it’s just about Ally coming back home and finding out her ex is engaged. I don’t mind a simple premise especially when it’s backed up with solid writing, performances and filmmaking like Somebody I Used to Know is, but I don’t appreciate when a movie claims to be about one thing and then takes forever to express its main premise. The whole “she’s just like I used to be” aspect of the movie isn’t really introduced until there’s 38 minutes left. It’s a small criticism but it’s an important one for me.
There was so much I enjoyed about Somebody I Used to Know. From hilarious lines like, “I didn’t come here to make friends. I came here to make flans,” to an improvised musical number to the utter delight of seeing a ridiculously silly Haley Joel Osment have the time of his life, this is a movie that is hard to resist. Finally, let me finish with this one question I have for all the couples out there after seeing this trope in one romantic movie after another: Do you guys really do the “surprise videotaping” thing? I need to know!
Have you seen Somebody I Used to Know?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!