Film, Writing

Film Review: I USED TO GO HERE (2020)

★ ★ ★ 1/2

One wonders if Gillian Jacobs is not exorcising some Community demons by taking the lead role in I Used to Go Here, which works as an extension of her name-making sitcom persona.
While stars of television drama often make a fairly seamless transition to the big screen, stars of iconic sitcoms can find the move difficult. Community, arguably, carved a niche in popular culture over the last decade as one of America’s biggest sitcoms, and Jacobs was a consistent part of the ensemble across all six seasons. With the persistently rumoured big screen version still mere fantasy, Jacobs hasn’t had the broader platform to portray her character Britta Perry that could have boosted her status as an actor. She has worked steadily developing her own projects as a director and appearing on both the big and small screen, but Kris Rey’s feature is the first example of Jacobs carrying a movie.
It makes a degree of sense that Jacobs chooses to parlay a proportion of the Britta character into I Used to Go Here, where she plays newly-published fiction writer Kate Conklin, a woman buoyed by her achievement but losing at life. Her book tour has been cancelled due to poor sales, the New York Times gives her a scathing review, and she’s recently split from an unseen fiancé who appears to have very swiftly moved on. Listless, Kate is invited by David Fitzpatrick, her charming writing professor at her Illinois alma mater (played by a roguish Jemaine Clement), to do a reading of her book and observe the creative writing students in his class with a view to taking a permanent position. Fuelled in part by the student crush she had on David, returns to her old yards, only to realise that the halcyon youth of college and promise have faded, and the experience reinforces her own uncertain place in the world.
This description does not match the tone of I Used to Go Here, which rather than a dour existential examination of youth’s decay, instead projects rather a hopeful message wrapped around a leisurely, relaxed sensibility, if boasting a slightly uneven tone at points.
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TV, Writing

Six Seasons and (No) Movie (Yet): Reflections on COMMUNITY

We all have those shows or movies that we sailed right on past, don’t we? Community was absolutely one of mine.
For years, I had close friends knowledgeable about television encouraging me to check in on Greendale Community College but for whatever reason, it never quite happened. I used to hear #sixseasonsandamovie and miss the reference. The first time I saw Joel McHale in anything was the revival of The X-Files. I spent *far* too long not knowing who Donald Glover was. All of these are on me. In hindsight, having just binge-watched almost the entirety of the series in around three weeks on Netflix (and slightly on Amazon), I can safely say Community is one of those shows that I am disappointed not to have experienced with everyone else at the time. I feel like those people who refuse to watch Game of Thrones and have no idea what they missed out on.

Let’s face it, Community is unique. There has never been a sitcom quite like it. You might call it a sitcom about sitcoms but that’s disingenuous. Community is more a sitcom that knows it’s a sitcom, and works hard to transcend a complex series of established formulas that have been in place for decades. Dan Harmon, the primary ubermind behind the adventures of the Greendale study group whose eventful college lives we observe each episode, understands tropes exist to be deconstructed and analysed, and deeper comedy can be reached in our post-modern landscape by encouraging the audience to be aware of said tropes. Community respects the so-called ‘fourth wall’ while never quite breaching it. In a sense, Harmon’s show is post-post-modern.
What’s great about Community, even as a show that arguably peaks and then troughs, is that it understands the sitcom well enough to deconstruct it while at the same time playing to the strengths of that same formula.
Continue reading “Six Seasons and (No) Movie (Yet): Reflections on COMMUNITY”