(Left to Right): Emma, Haley, & Olivia with Dave and Alison after the interview
As Valentine’s Day just passed, it is the season to sit down with concerning amounts of chocolate and watch reruns of everyone’s favorite romantic comedies such as “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “50 First Dates,” “13 Going on 30,” “How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days” and more. Romantic comedies have always been such a timeless genre because even though cinema and pop culture is constantly changing, the one topic that appeals to everyone and keeps our curious minds and hearts wondering is the idea of love.
Power Couple Dave Franco and Alison Brie teamed up once again for Franco’s sophomore directorial debut in “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Franco, known for his successful acting career in franchises such as “Neighbors,” “21 Jump Street,” “Now You See Me,” “The Disaster Artist,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and the medical drama “Scrubs,” recently made the jump to directing.
On Feb. 10, we had the honor of being invited to interview Franco and Brie about the film alongside a roundtable of college journalists. When we asked about his decision to move from actor to director Franco reflected on his past, noting, “When I was first starting out as an actor, I was really happy and excited to be working and to be just gaining that experience but there were some jobs early on that I wasn’t necessarily proud of.”
Franco admitted that while he’s not proud of all his initial work, it shaped who he was as an artist and ultimately drove him towards directing. He started to continue his passion projects on a bigger scale which led him to develop skits and short films with his childhood friends for the comedy site funnyordie.com. “We wrote these shorts, we acted in them, directed them, edited them… I’ve been wanting to take the leap of directing a feature for a long time, but candidly, I was scared.”
Since Franco became a household name as an actor, it is understandable that he would be concerned about reactions to shifting his career path. “I felt like because people know me as an actor that there might be a little bit of a spotlight on me where people might think like ‘oh, this guy thinks he can do this other thing now too,’” he said in a mocking tone, “Finally, I just stopped thinking about what other people would think and I just knew I had this urge inside of me that I needed to get out. I can say now, the two movies that I’ve directed have been some of the most enjoyable times I’ve had.”
The two films are drastically different. The Rental, Franco’s freshman directorial debut, a 2020 critically-acclaimed thriller produced by Black Bear Pictures premiered #1 at the box office and across digital platforms. Opening weekend, the feature topped the box office and was the top-rented film on Apple TV, iTunes and other streaming services, becoming the second film to ever receive the accolade of both topping the box office and rental charts. Despite Franco’s reservations, the film’s success proved that he could swiftly transition into other aspects of filmmaking.
Movie goers are not the only ones who are craving that same feel-good energy that the classic rom-coms give off. “We love romantic comedies… Our intention with everything that we work on is to at least try to bring something new to the table, something that you haven’t seen before.” Franco and Brie’s comedic personalities shine through, including their decision to hide real-life anecdotes in the storyline. “[We] wanted to make it as real as possible…” Cat throw up and all.
This film is a modern-day love story with the infamous Dave Franco flare — hilarious, raunchy and heartfelt. Franco and Brie’s love for happy endings inspired their idea for this film which included aspects of early 80s and 90s rom-coms and flipped them on their head. “We used what we know and love about them to lead the audience down a certain path where they might think, ‘oh, I know where this is going’ and then try to pull the rug out from underneath them every step of the way. So, hopefully, all the twists and turns do feel surprising and original.”
“You gotta know the rules to break the rules,” Alison Brie added. Subverting the rom-com genre is not an easy feat, yet Franco and Brie do so effortlessly. As we all know, rom-coms have a typical outline, “people who love them really know the formula [and] even people who hate them really know the formula… We really took that as a challenge to be like, okay, can we make something that is at the same time an ode to the genre and also sort of the anti-rom-com at the same time?” Brie continues.
*Spoiler Alert!* Ally, Alison Brie’s desperate character, goes back to her hometown to ‘find herself’ after the collapse of her reality TV show career. Upon revisiting one of her “old haunts,” the local town bar, Ally runs into her first-love, Sean, and proceeds to force herself into his wedding party, in an attempt to try and make him fall for her again and ruin his current relationship with his fiancéé.
The film includes some other tropes from the rom-com genre such as forbidden love, second chances, a love triangle and… trying to sabotage other happy relationships.
“You’re not going to pull some Julia Roberts, ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ type shit are you?,” Sean’s fiancéé, Cassidy, asks her.
We won’t spoil anymore😉 You can watch “Somebody I Used To Know” on Amazon Prime.
Olivia Carzo is a third-year English major in the Honors College with a concentration in Visual and Digital Rhetoric and a minor in Journalism. OC920925@wcupa.edu
Emma Hogan is a third-year English major with a minor in Journalism. EH954390@wcupa.edu
Haley Master is a third-year English major with a minor in Journalism. HM948534@wcupa.edu