What Does Melora Hardin's 'You' Inspire? by Kevin Crossman

Melora Hardin's role on The Office diminished last season as her character's downward spiral took her from serious, hard-nosed VP to sex-crazed mid-life crisis to domestic goddess and candle entrepreneur to mother. It's a sad story not just for the character but those of us who loved Season 2 Jan Levenson. I considered S2 Jan to be one of my favorite Office characters ever, so I was interested to finally catch up with Melora Hardin's latest project, her directorial debut with You.

The film stars Hardin as Miranda, a mother who suddenly dies leaving her young daughter in the care of her husband. Hardin's real-life husband Gildart Jackson wrote the script and stars as the Miranda's husband Rawdon. The film explores the nature of love though a series of scenes and flashbacks and involves the family and friends of Miranda and Rawdon, including Miranda's parents (played by real life parents Jerry Hardin and Diane Hardin). The couple's daughter Quincy is played by several actresses over a twenty year span in the film, including Allison Mack as the grown-up version. 

The film's official website (www.youthefilm.com) and the press materials I received with my screener instructed me to "watch it with my family and friends" so my wife and I sat down with our seven year old to watch the film. The press materials indicated that the film is connecting with audiences and causes them to "be inspired by it to connect with the ones they love."

Shortly after starting the movie, we had to send our seven year-old away due to some adult language and scenes of sexuality (nothing too explicit... but too much for our child). The film is not rated but would likely rate as a light "R" - the first blow against the "family and friends" aesthetic.  The film is clearly coming from an emotional place, which means this falls into a romantic rather than comedic genre (no boob job jokes to be found here). I've liked the occasional "chick flick" so that in itself was not a problem.

So, did the film "inspire" my wife and I? I think these two Facebook posts from my wife say it all.

Julie Crossman: Kevin's making me watch the worst movie in the world! It's laugh out loud horrible.

Julie Crossman: It's called "You," and it's a movie made by Melora Hardin (of the Office), her husband and her father. It's independent. It's supposed to be a drama, but we are laughing ourselves silly.

I wish I could say my wife got it all wrong, but when the female part of the family ridicules the emotional story about a widower and his daughter, well, you might guess where I stood. This movie is so completely ridiculous and poorly acted it might well be the funniest film project from an Office alumni all year.

A key part of the "unintentionally funny" aspect of the film is that Hardin's character Miranda keeps appearing to her husband throughout major events in his life. These scenes are far from "spirited" and do not add to the drama; in fact, they take the viewer out of the drama and cause them to think about how unbelievable the entire premise of the film is.

Jackson does a fair job as the central character, often making good acting choices only to be undercut by his own poorly written dialogue and situations. The less said by the three uniformly bad actresses playing daughter Quincy the better.  The film wants to explore relationships over time and at the film's conclusion there is a revelation of sorts - except that the revelation itself actually takes place early in the chronology of the characters, which itself is example of how poorly constructed the film actual is. The "lesson" the character learns is something that they apparently forgot for the next twenty years. It's a mess, plain and simple.

I does not bring me joy to tell you that You is a colossal failure in every possible way, but I'd be doing a disservice by pulling my punches. I had no reason not to like You but it just didn't do it for me. As they say, your mileage may vary, but I can't recommend this to anyone but people who want to see every Office related project. Or for those who love films that are "so bad they are good." In that case, this is the film for you.
Category:movies -- posted at: 12:37am EDT

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