“When something breaks, if the pieces are large enough, you can fix it.”
Someone Great knows how to have fun and how to work hungover. The script fears its presumptuously dirty 30’s in that way. It’s a formulaic, greasy, mopped up mess of a movie found you’d find spilled in aisle 9, laughing at the ludicrousness of it all. One that’s all business in the front and party in the back. Clean cut for the company picture while hiding adventurous curls draped over slouched shoulder blades. These characters wouldn’t pass a drug test, nor do they ever get to truly present their own sober selves, but we can also tell that they deeply care about each other. Someone Great doesn’t know what it wants to be, and that sentiment reflects the actions of the people on-screen, which might not always work but always remains likable.
The film lacks a cohesive tone because the two disparate sides – ranging for the broad actions of a youthful lush to those of a thoughtful adult – have such different ideologies. Jenny Young (Gina Rodriguez) hustles hard and practically works round the clock, climbing up the ranks to make the move from NY freelancer to a paid position in San Francisco with Rolling Stone. She has earned it, and she seems to need it. Things with Nate (Lakeith Stanfield) have grown stale. It’s not malicious either; their near decade long courtship has passed the honeymoon phase and their breakfast that was once enjoyed in bed now goes uncooked, or maybe just left to sit on the counter to get cold. We don’t support them collectively but we root for them individually. It’s hard to not hope for love. After all, we’ve become conditioned to expect it from movies like this one.
The bulk of the film goes back and forth between evocatively colored, hazy memories of new love and the crystal-clear picture of the present, admirably trying to center itself on character development with varying degrees of success. Jenny’s closest friends couldn’t be any more different. Erin (DeWanda Wise) denies the love of her newest girlfriend Leah (Rebecca Naomi Jones) and lingers on old party girl behaviors. Blair (Brittany Snow) has transformed into the Mom of this trio, dates a guy (Alex Moffat) she doesn’t love or really even like, and guards her darker inhibitions for fear of being deemed insignificant or inconsequential. All the bad comes gushing out when Nate unexpectedly, yet we come to redefine as unsurprisingly, breaks up with Jenny before her big move West. You can likely guess who’s there to help her no questions asked and by her side for one final romp on the town.
Raunchier than I expected going in, which by no means makes this surrogate sisterhood any less charming, Someone Great sticks to a formula and ends with its own unique answer and outlook on the games of love. The soundtrack could enliven any house party, the cast exudes great chemistry, and it capably juggles – albeit sometimes clumsily – the foul-mouthed comedy with the more grounded and dramatic scenes. You can commiserate and empathize with this movie. When Jenny accidentally drops her phone into a night club toilet, I was taken back to a party in the country where I dropped my indestructible brick phone in a Porta Potty, fishing it out while dry-heaving (it still worked, but it came with a literal shitty hit against my integrity). In other moments Jenny has to deal with how songs, landmarks, and even the site of a Diet Coke can remind you of a person, take you to a place, and abruptly drudge up old feelings from below the surface. Tailor-made for women in their mid 20s who might be fearful of the big 3-0, Someone Great speaks to all audiences with a few discernible truths: that real friendship is worth fighting for and preserving, that growing up doesn’t have to hinder a childlike spirit, that it’s important to let loose responsibly, and that it’s okay to let go of people and emotions when you can no longer maintain a grip. Writer/Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s Someone Great delivers plenty of laughs and along the way assures us that things change, and with them so must we. Maybe the someone great you might actually need is just a different, new version of yourself. And that’s okay.
“This is the end of an era.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5