Dave Franco is a man of many talents.
The 37-year-old movie icon has written and directed his second film – the Amazon original Somebody I Used to Know.
The feature marks the second directorial experience in Franco’s career, and Franco co-wrote it with his wife Alison Brie, who also acted in the film.
This film can be considered one of the building blocks to Franco’s career as a director and film writer, and it proves that Franco is ready to take his next step into Hollywood stardom.
The story follows the Los Angeles-based workaholic Ally (Alison Brie), whose journalistic fame is slowly dying after her talk show gets the boot from her TV network. Disheartened, Ally decides to pay a visit to her hometown in rural Washington for the first time in several years.
Upon arrival, Ally goes to her favorite local bar, only to find that her ex-boyfriend Sean (Jay Ellis) is there, too. The two catch up for a while and end up spending the night revisiting all the attractions in town.
By the time Sean drops Ally off at home in the morning, she’s reminded of the close connection the two used to share. She decides to go back to Sean’s house to see him again, only to be invited to dinner by Sean’s mother, Joanne (Olga Merediz).
While sitting at the table, Joanne shares a toast for the “married couple,” at which point Ally finds out Sean is engaged.
Nevertheless, Ally isn’t discouraged from trying to rekindle the relationship between her and Sean.
Here’s where Franco’s twist plays out.
Nods to Franco
The film ends on a twist that Franco specifically wrote because he didn’t want to take “the obvious route,” Franco said in an interview. “That’s the last thing we wanted to do.”
Franco described himself as an avid lover of romantic comedies, so his goal was to make one that stuck with the viewer.
“We use what we know and love about the genre, and it's to almost lead the audience down a certain path where they might think, ‘Oh, I know what's going to happen,’” Franco said. “And then we try to pull the rug out from under them every step of the way.”
If Franco was trying to make the drama memorable, he succeeded.
“In terms of this love triangle…, we just wanted to make something a little more complicated.” Franco chimed. “And a little messier.”
The twist shows more than the movie might suggest. Not only do the twists change the plot and draw viewers in, but they make the audience think. Franco’s clever script is not the only reason to see this film.
The great film writers and directors always have some subplots in the background while the real storyline takes place up front.
Franco’s film is about true love and romance through and through. But another plot that occurs simultaneous to the wedding is the career of the journalist Ally, which defines her character while she’s in Los Angeles on set. She’s more serious, she’s visibly lonelier, and she doesn’t have the fanbase quite like the one in Washington.
This hardworking, lonely side of Ally is lost when she attends the wedding. She sings karaoke, laughs with friends, and even goes streaking on a golf course.
Fun, spontaneous Ally quickly becomes the version the viewer falls in love with. And Ally falls more in love with herself too. Though she loves her journalism accomplishments, she sees that her career needs to be tailored to who she is as a person.
After the wedding is completed and the fun is done, Ally gears her career toward a new type of reporting, and prepare yourself, there are nudists involved.
The movie is perfectly progressive
Franco also achieves in filming a politically-correct and body-positive movie.
The portrayal of women is natural and, well, human. Cassidy has hair under her arms, but it’s not mentioned. Part of society’s beauty standard is shaving hair off one’s body, but Franco fights the stereotype.
“I feel like we talk about older millennials and all of us still being traumatized from diet culture in the 90s and things like that, and now it's so refreshing that people talk so openly about body positivity and mental health,” Brie said of the film’s progressive aspects in an interview.
Ellis, who played Sean, complimented Franco and Brie for being able to incorporate progressive mindsets into the film.
“It's something that's not the same as me and we … have different qualities,” Ellis said of the film’s characters. “But there's something about them and their experiences that I ultimately learn from.”
Ally’s mother, played by Amy Sedaris, is a sweet woman who can also be viewed as a sex addict. Numerous times throughout the film Ally walks in on her mom and has to quickly look away – a comedic touch that is not only relatable, but also sex-positive.
Franco plays with normalizing bisexuality, as Cassidy casually mentions that she had a girlfriend before she met Sean. Franco also blends many personality types: the loving ones, serious ones, shy ones, and even those who like to party. They’re all portrayed differently, yet no one is painted in a bad light.
Franco is on the right path
I enjoyed this film from start to finish; it was light-hearted and very quirky.
But best of all, it’s so undeniably Franco. He is able to bring his own personality into the script and blend it into a modern rom-com.
I tip my hat to both Franco and Brie for bringing this film to life.
This movie is easily the best of the two Franco has directed, and it could be a sign that Franco’s career as a director is about to take off.
He seems more than ready to take that step in his Hollywood career.
How/where to watch
Franco’s rom-com Somebody I Used to Know premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 10.