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Somebody I Used To Know


‘…a small yet well-proportioned film about the big deal of growing up, and a decent time-passer for those who seek to revel in the complications of modern love…’

Doesn’t that title sound familiar? I guess there’s a ubiquitous song always knocking on your brain door called Somebody That I Used To Know, which itself samples liberally from Luiz Bonfá’s Seville, and that ‘that’ remains in position even when the same song is remixed back to an 80’s style. Sticking with the throwbacks, Dave Franco directed and co-wrote this comedy-drama film for streamer Amazon Prime with his wife, Alison Brie, who stars as Ally, a workaholic tv producer and presenter who questions her own lifestyle choices on a return to her humble Leavenworth hometown. Streamers seem to view high-end indie dramas as a territory they’re keen to nab, and Somebody I Used To Know should do nicely enough for those seeking a little relationship drama over the Valentine’s period of 2023.

Ally is working 25/8 on a reality tv show called Dessert Island, in which strangers form romantic bonds over their ability to create sweet confections; a neat start sees her interviewing a contestant, with the gravity of the conversation underscored by the triviality of the show. Dessert Island gets canned, leaving Ally to bounce off her vapid agent (Amy Sedaris), then return to her sexpot mom (Airplane’s Julie Hagerty) and her teenage bedroom with pop posters still on the walls. Ally also seeks solace in old flame Sean (Jay Ellis from Top Gun: Maverick). But Sean is about to get married to the younger Cassidy (Hearts Beat Loud’s Kiersey Clemons); should Ally try to disrupt the wedding and win back her old beau?

Somebody I Used To Know certainly trades in recycled situations, from My Best Friend’s Wedding to Garden State, but although Ally’s character isn’t quite as devious as Charlize Theron in Young Adult, her pride comes before a similarly vertiginous fall. ‘I built my life around one thing,’ Ally muses of her media career, ‘What if it was the wrong thing?’ Franco and Brie’s script pulls back from the lazy slapstick shots offered elsewhere, and takes an unexpected turn as Ally and Cassidy become friends and the depth of their relationship leaves little room for lies, although Ally can’t resist landing a potential killer blow on her rival…

Somebody I Used To Know has all kind of minor pleasures to offer, from a Community reunion between Brie and co-star Danny Pudi, not so manic now but an engaging second banana as Ally’s pal Benny, to Haley Joel Osment, bearded and all grown up as a father of several kids who reminds us of time’s ticking clock. Franco and Brie’s film also stuffs some decent music in to sweeten the deal, ranging from Robert Lester Folsom’s catchy My Stove’s on Fire to the old-school stylings of Phoenix and Third Eye Blind. Naturism, or nudism if you prefer, provides an easy, visual shorthand for Ally’s eventual sense of self-discovery, and for some viewers, the copious nudity involved in the streaking sequences here will be an attraction. But while we’ve all been around this course before, Somebody I Used To Know is more than just a remix of a copy of a cover of a song you used to know; it’s a small yet well-proportioned film about the big deal of growing up, and a decent time-passer for those who seek to revel in the complications of modern love.


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  1. Ugh. When I was reading your review, I started thinking of Young Adult before you actually mentioned it, and that was a film I hated.

    Great song, though.

    Also had to plug 25/8 into the Urban Dictionary, though I could pretty much figure it out from context. Still, another phrase I can use with the kids to convince them I’m hip!

  2. Yep, Amazon strikes again, thinking nakedness will get eyes on the screen. I just avoid their “original” brand and save myself the grief.
    I have to admit, why do movies like this even appeal to people? Somebody makes all the wrong choices and things still turn out ok for them? Only in Movielandia…

    • This is the only nakedness on the internet right now, so I guess they’re gambling on people being interested in it. I guess drama is partly based on the idea of people making and correcting mistakes…

          • But that would be partaking of the sins of the past and we can’t have that. Now, maybe if you grabbed an old tree that had fallen down because of old age or something, then we could discuss if that was ok or not.

            and changing the subject here (because as we all know, I stay on topic so well)

            have you ever listened to the lyrics to that song? I wonder if most people do or if they just hear that one phrase and go from there.

  3. Hmmm. Can’t say I count myself among those looking for a little relationship drama. The copious nudity of a nudist colony doesn’t attract. And I would indeed by startled and then disturbed at a bearded Osment with kids. So another romcom goes down in flames.

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