Somebody I Used To Know Review

We review the new romantic comedy Somebody I Used To Know, starring Allison Brie and directed by Dave Franco.

Last Updated on February 15, 2023

Plot: Workaholic TV producer Ally faces a major professional setback which sends her running to the comforts of her hometown. She spends a whirlwind evening reminiscing with her first love Sean and starts to question everything about the person she’s become. Things only get more confusing when she discovers Sean is getting married to Cassidy whose confidence and creative convictions remind Ally of who she used to be.

Review: Dave Franco’s directorial debut, The Rental, was a slick indie thriller that was a surprisingly adept first feature from the actor-turned-filmmaker. Franco delivered a solid horror movie with his wife, Alison Brie, in a lead role. I expected his sophomore effort to be similar, but Franco has instead turned his sights to romantic comedy. With Somebody I Used To Know, Franco and Brie reunite for a film that takes a mature look at a genre that often has been relegated to a rote formula. By injecting the familiar plot we have seen countless times with a good amount of drama and character development, Somebody I Used To Know is more layered than the trailers lead you to believe.

Somebody I Used To Know,Prime Video,Alison Brie,Dave Franco

The trailers make Somebody I Used To Know look more like a broad comedy because of the cast, which includes Danny Pudi (Brie’s Community co-star) and Sam Richardson and Zoe Chao (Franco’s co-stars on AppleTV+ series The Afterparty). There are also veterans Julie Hagerty and Olga Merediz, both known for their comedic roles. Even in the movie’s first minutes, there are hilarious jokes involving bodily fluids and a somewhat explicit sexual moment that may make you think this movie will be something familiar. After a few more minutes, when Jay Ellis (Top Gun: Maverick) shows up, the film settles into the story it is trying to tell. Following Ally (Brie) as she returns home to find out her former boyfriend Sean (Ellis) is getting married, she sets out to try and win him back from his fiance, Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons). If that sounds oddly familiar, it should. A character even calls out the similarly themed rom-com My Best Friend’s Wedding before the movie embraces its real narrative goal.

There are all of the conceits and cliches of a rom-com peppered in the opening act of Somebody I Used To Know, led by Ally experiencing a somewhat early mid-life crisis when she cannot foresee where her career is headed and if she made the right decisions in her life. When she reconnects with Sean, it feels like destiny, but that begins to unravel when Ally realizes that she likes Cassidy and does not see her as an enemy. The wrinkles within this movie that make it stand out all stem from Alison Brie’s performance as Ally, which eases between a conniving and plotting romantic lead and a genuinely lost human being. Brie edges her performance close to the motivations we expect from the protagonist in a romantic comedy but keeps her character a bit more grounded or, at the very least, reflective enough to realize when her plan may have gone too far.

Jay Ellis, who did outstanding work on Issa Rae’s HBO series Insecure, complements his blockbuster turn in Top Gun: Maverick with this more subtle performance. As the guy caught in the middle of two women, Ellis never portrays Sean as a scumbag or a cheater. Instead, Sean is a character who has endured emotional trauma in his life, some due directly to Ally, and is trying to find his happiness when she returns. At the same time, Kiersey Clemons does a fantastic job as Cassidy, a bisexual musician with familial and romantic baggage. When these three characters come into proximity, Somebody I Used To Know allows them to orbit one another and develop interactions rather than jamming in pratfalls or cliche comedy of errors moments. The humor in this film is sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes awkward, but it always feels real. Moments centered on Haley Joel Osment as Jeremy, Sean’s brother, and Danny Pudi as Sean and Ally’s mutual friend Benny had me laughing, but not because they were mugging for the camera. It was because they felt like people I used to know myself, and they pulled me further into this story.

Much of what works in this film comes from the creative pairing of Dave Franco and Alison Brie. The married couple has not shared the screen in any of their projects. Still, being co-writers on Somebody I Used To Know showcases a solid bond between them, translating into the natural dialogue between Ally and Sean. Franco, directing Brie for the second time, never shies away from showing her naturally and realistically on screen, honing in on the uncomfortable moments they devised in the script, making this story feel even more authentic. Bringing in established talents like Julie Hagerty and Amy Sedaris for minor roles fleshes out this cast while still allowing this to be a spotlight on Alison Brie. Harkening back to the rom-coms of the 80s and 90s, Dave Franco’s film makes great use of the cinematography of Brian Lannin, who uses the beauty of the Pacific Northwest as a great backdrop. The score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is also quite good. Still, the musical selection on this soundtrack is excellent, echoing what I would imagine would be Ally’s playlist.

Somebody I Used To Know,Prime Video,Alison Brie,Dave Franco

Somebody I Used To Know is a great romantic comedy because it does not follow the expected rom-com rulebook. Dave Franco and Alison Brie have written a beautiful story about coming to terms with being untethered, unsure of where your life is going, and being drawn back to the familiar and the nostalgiac. But, the story also does not turn into a fairy tale or fantasy. Somebody I Used To Know instead shows us what would happen if someone tried to enact a zany rom-com plan in reality and whether it would lead to a happy ending or not. This story could have been a downer, but Franco’s restrained direction allows the script he and Brie wrote to shine through. With a great leading turn from Brie and solid supporting performances from Jay Ellis and Kiersey Clemons, Somebody I Used To Know pushes the romantic comedy out of its comfort zone and delivers something refreshing and new.


About the Author

5919 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.