You know the feeling: you’re meeting up with old high school or college friends for the first time in years. And as you start to catch up, you realize that all of your old pals are doing new and exciting things. You, on the other hand, have been stuck in a bit of a rut. You know you shouldn’t be comparing your life to theirs. But you can’t help yourself.
That’s the premise of I Used to Go Here, a new dramedy written and directed by Kris Swanberg.
The film follows the exploits of Kate, a thirty-something Chicago writer whose first novel has just come out. She should be celebrating. But it isn’t selling well, and her publisher decides to cancel the big promotional tour they’d booked for her. So, when one of her old college professors invites her back to her alma mater for a reading, she jumps at the chance to do something that will make her feel like a successful writer, a successful adult. Ironically, she winds up spending most of her time on campus with a group of undergrads living in a house she used to rent when she went to school there.
Some hilarity, and awkwardness, ensues.
Depending on how much cringe you like with your comedy, you may either find the dialogue impressively verisimilitistic or full of a few too many drawn-out pauses and false starts. But even if you end up in the latter camp, you’ll likely be impressed by Gillian Jacobs’ portrayal of Kate.
Jacobs is probably best known for playing a scatterbrained supporting cast member on the sitcom “Community” (a show that was, incidentally, created by Milwaukee native Dan Harmon). But she’s also proven, on the underrated Judd Apatow vehicle “Love,” that she’s a capable leading lady. And she brings a welcome sense of wide-eyed vulnerability to her role in this film.
She’s joined on screen by Jemaine Clement (one half of the Flight of the Conchords), who plays her former college professor, and a cast of young up-and-comers who bring a little levity to the story.
Ultimately, the film itself is much like those students. A little awkward, at times. But also full of humor and charm.