Friday, November 20, 2015

Movie Review #342: "Miss You Already" (2015)

Movie"Miss You Already"
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
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Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore) have been best friends since grade school. Everything Milly does, Jess does too, and the two are always together. The years have seen these two friends put through trials and tribulations. Milly is now married to a man named Kit (Dominic Cooper) and has two young children, and Jess and her boyfriend Jago (Paddy Considine) are trying for a baby. When Milly gets diagnosed with breast cancer, Jess must put her dream of being a mother on hold to help out her best friend, but she can only do so for so long before she has to do what's right for herself and her own relationship.

BigJ and I weren't even sure if we were going to see "Miss You Already" since we have a deeply personal connection to something similar that happened in our lives. In fact, we put it off until the last minute and only went because it fit into our schedule for this week's movie-going. With two very talented actresses in Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore, the caliber of acting was definitely not the reason we wanted to skip this one. We were cautious of its super depressing subject matter....and had our suspicions confirmed when about 3 minutes into the movie, I began to cry and didn't stop the entire film, not because the movie itself was sad, but because my outside feelings were only heightened by this film's often moving script. Milly and Jess, the best of best friends, have their relationship tested when Milly gets diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40. Obviously, this comes as quite a shock to Milly and her husband Kit, played by Dominic Cooper, who have two young children together. At first, as audience members, we do feel bad for her plight. It is gut-wrenching to watch her have to do things like tell her kids she was sick and might not be around for their entire lives. This would be understandably hard for anyone. From there, we watch Jess and Milly go to chemotherapy, together almost every step of the way in Milly's illness, in what seems to be a life reinvigorated by the odds stacked against her.

In many ways, what happens on screen here is exactly what happens in real life. This film gets a lot of it right and does so in a sometimes heartwarming way, mixed with some darker humor that won't be for everyone. Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there. It's obvious from the start of the movie that "Miss You Already" never tries to hide the fact that it wants to make its audience members cry their eyes out and wants to make people appreciate every second they have here on this earth to the fullest extent. Milly reaches a point in her life right after she finds out she has to have a procedure done where she goes into full blown YOLO mode, cheating on her husband with a barman, not coming home for days, taking an impulsive trip to the Moors and dragging a pregnant Jess along with her (even though Milly doesn't know she's pregnant). We get that being diagnosed with a terminal illness might make you want to live life to the fullest and do things you wouldn't normally do, but it's no excuse for being an asshole, which Milly is for the last half of the film. All of this drama is infused with Jess and Milly's very odd and aggressive friendship where they flip each other off for fun, call each other names, and can be quite snarky both in private and in public. I totally get this sentiment because that's how I am with my group of friends and we love each other for it, but here, it simply seems done for theatrics sake, favoring these over-the-top gestures and goings on in lieu of a more authentic relationship. Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette do well with what they have to work with, and though we believe their friendship, individually and off on their own is where the film begins to fall apart. We understand that both Milly and Jess would want to be selfish during such a horrible time in life, but Milly's selfishness is rather unforgivable and makes the audience fall out of favor with her when she's clearly dying. With a bit of a tighter script, this film could have been so much more impactful than it was.

BigJ's mother passed away from ovarian cancer in 2012. The sting of that loss hasn't ever really gone away for either of us. "Miss You Already" was an all too painful reminder that loss is permanent, which seems silly to say, but when you think about it, it's really not. No matter how much or how hard you keep people in your heart, at the end of the day, they are still gone. What they did in this life cannot be forgotten, but memories fade, and life, eventually, goes on. While this film was able to capture some of the more realistic, glossed over moments of someone's illness we don't usually see in movies (for example: going to chemotherapy and going to the doctor, vomiting and other side effects, the depression a spouse goes through, etc), it also takes terminal illness diagnosis to the nth degree in an overly dramatic fashion. In the end, it's a story most will identify with, but it could have been much better.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 66%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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