THE movie’s tagline is “What doesn’t kill you ... is going to marry your brother.”
In first-time screenwriter Moe Jelline’s case, it is more appropriate to say “what doesn’t kill you will get you a movie deal”.
Her high school experience has become rich fodder for Disney comedy You Again, starring an ensemble that includes familiar names such as Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Victor Garber, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White and Kristin Chenoweth.
It’s about Marni (Bell) who, as she’s about to return home for her brother’s wedding, finds out that the bride is Joanna (Odette Yustman) who had given her endless grief in high school.
“I’ve always been fascinated with how high school is just four years in your life yet the emotional ups and downs can stay with some people for the rest of their lives,” explained Jelline.
The idea of a despised enemy marrying one’s beloved brother was also inspired by the writer’s own family.
“I have an adorable brother and many of my friends keep calling me to ask if he is single and if I could set them up with him.
“The thought of my brother dating one of my friends was slightly horrifying, but then it occurred to me that it’s better he wound up with someone I like than I don’t,” she added.
She showed her script to her boss of many years – Eric Tannenbaum, who executive-produces the hit sitcom Two And A Half Men. Tannenbaum showed it to his friend and fellow producer John J. Strauss who in turn took it to Disney and the rest, as they say, is history.
Director Andy Fickman then set about assembling his dream cast. Besides Curtis and Garber playing Marni’s parents and White as the grandmother, Weaver is the worldly, wealthy aunt of the bride. Chenoweth plays the flamboyant wedding co-ordinator.
By all accounts, the cast members truly enjoyed stepping on set throughout filming thanks to the director who kept the environment lighthearted. He’s also fond of giving nicknames (goodnatured ones, of course) to his actors, such as K-Bell and Cheno.
In fact, there was such a positive vibe that when Fickman put the word out that he was looking for people to make a cameo appearance, there was plenty of response – a band included.
As this is a flick about a wedding, naturally there’s a lot of music and dancing involved.
“I did a hit list among the cast and crew, and struck gold with Hall and Oates. They agreed to change their tour dates to appear in the movie,” said Fickman, who comes from a musical theatre background.
“The cast was so excited. Hall and Oates also wanted to meet Sigourney and Betty,” he added.
Besides the music treat from the American pop duo who achieved their greatest fame in the late 1970s, the cast also get to show off their dance skill with a few stunts thrown in.
Fickman, whose past movie directorial credits include Race To Witch Mountain, had the most to say about White in the scene in which she swung from the ceiling in a fabric swing: “We had a stunt double for Betty, but she insisted on doing it herself.
“I was worried sick; I yelled cut as soon as we got the shot and she was asking if we got the scene right and should she do it again!”
It wasn’t just White who was willing to do the physical scenes herself, the others also gamely threw (literally for some) themselves into theirs.
Except for Bell accidentally slipping and falling on her back while doing one scene, all the cast survived You Again unscathed. – By VickyOoi
Joanna (left) and Marni making nice after years of bitter rivalry.