Dave Franco typically performs in front of the camera, but his sophomore directorial effort brings audiences a quirky rom/com starring Alison Bree and Jay Elis. Somebody I Used to Know, written by husband and wife team Franco and Bree, is a fun, thoughtful film about self-discovery and love. Franco has a keen eye behind the lens, and he and Bree have created engaging characters in a fresh romantic comedy.
Bree stars as Ally, a hard (too hard) working reality TV producer whose show “Desserted Island” (yes, desserts and love) suffers poor numbers and is canceled. Ally runs back to her hometown to lick her wounds and mentally regroup. After a nightmare flight to Washington state (involving a crying baby and a poopy cat), Ally is greeted at her childhood home by her mother and former 3rd-grade teacher’s lovemaking antics. She bolts to the local bar to drink her sorrows away, where she runs into an old flame, her ex-fiancé Sean. What seems to be a chance encounter turns out to be a chain of events that leads her to participate in Sean’s pending nuptials and Ally’s rethinking of her life choices.
There is a lightness to Somebody I Used to Know, and its cast brings it on. Bree is precious, and her character is relatable, and because the writing is clever, the film works. We can relate to Ally and her confusion about her career and social life, but Sean muddies the water the most. He’s engaged to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons) but notably flirting with Ally, his ex-, who chose career over love. Clemons is delightful too. Cassidy, for her age, has a grasp on her feelings, but like Ally, considers giving up her punk band career for Sean. Ally chose her filmmaking over Sean but has second thoughts, and she attempts to explore their relationship.
Franco and Bree’s themes are relevant and relatable, and while some are silly, the story offers clear and entertaining messages. Franco keeps it simple, and we win because of it. It’s a character-driven tale, and he makes the best of his talented cast. Ally’s nympho-esque mom (Julie Hagerty) provides for some amusing, if not uncomfortable, laughs. Danny Pudi plays well alongside Ally as her best friend and the voice of reason, which is slightly ironic since Pudi is usually more sardonic and droller. It works, and the cast meshes well.
Somebody I Used to Know hosts an R-rating because of full nudity – sex, streaking, and nude interviews. Still, for all of this, most is in good taste. The plot plays out predictably, but that’s okay too. Franco and Bree follow the basics of rom/com filmmaking but provide ample freshness to make their little film worthwhile.