Written by: Kris Rey
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Josh Wiggins, Hannah Marks, Forrest Goodluck, Jorma Taccone, Kate Micucci
As college graduation nears, students hopefully have prospects for what they want to achieve in life, and even with all of the effort in the world, things don’t always turn out as expected. A reality many have to face and eventually accept, which receives its due in the funny and charming I Used to Go Here. Follows many familiar beats in its storytelling but still brings plenty of charm from its lead actor.
With her published book launch not going exactly as she planned, Kate (Gillian Jacobs) receives an invitation from a former professor (Jermaine Clement) to do a reading for one of his classes. While she returns to her old stomping grounds, she interacts with the contemporary students and assists in their shenanigans as she experiences her own breakthrough.
Just like when returning to high school reunions, I Used to Go Here runs with the energy of trying to show off the success the protagonist has accrued, even with it not being as gargantuan as she would have hoped. A shared feeling many have where they want to present themselves as successful, especially towards the younger folks following the same footsteps. Kate faces this personal battle in this story, as she has reached her 30s, does not have kids like her friends and the book she just published has struggled mightily in the sales department. Having thought she would have succeeded more at this point in life is where the film strikes an emotional core with its relatability. When young, ambition reigns with what can be accomplished but time moves much quicker than one can ever expect and waits for no one. Kate finds herself in this situation and must navigate properly.
It makes the visit to Carbondale so illuminating for Kate, as she interacts with the professor who has always believed in her and interacts with a group of students who idolize her as someone who “made it.” Through it all, she comes to realize that everything in life did not work exactly how she thought it would play out, where she would have a successful novel and a fiance alongside her. This intersects with the college students she interacts with while visiting the college, as they deal with their own issues that happen to be normal for this particular period of their lives. Whether it be relationship issues or struggling with their academics, they go through their own gauntlet, and having Kate experience theirs on top of her own creates both the comedy and the growing moments for her.
The comedy on display in this film works similarly to other independent comedies where it finds the humor in the self-deprecating ways of its lead protagonist. She falls into some hilarious screw-ups where you begin to question exactly how she found herself in the situation. This includes a moment where they break into someone’s house in search of some critical information. In those moments Kate really sticks out from the rest of the college students and begins to question where her emotional level may be sitting. While still young, she has reached a completely different moment in her life and it becomes critical for her to learn this just as the students do from their own interactions with her.
Following familiar beats, as one would expect with this story, the true gem appears in the performance of Gillian Jacobs. Someone who has been popping up in different small projects after Community, she always lights up the screen and succeeds in portraying these types of characters. She handles the comedy while also seemingly always presenting a sympathetic front when she perhaps crosses the line. Jacobs anchors the entire story and allows the supporting college students to bounce off well from her. While Jermaine Clement does not have as much to do in the story as the poster may indicate, his character remains integral to Kate’s particular development in fully having to pass through this rough patch in life. It’s always nice to have Clement’s Kiwi humor and he certainly delivers a healthy amount of chuckles with his limited screen time.
Weightless in execution but still plenty of fun to be had, I Used to Go Here presents a situation many individuals in their 30s may be feeling as others land major accomplishments while your own may be falling apart. It all comes as part of life one must get through and Kate happens to receive the proper incidents to help with this journey. The film feels very contained and small, which occurs with many independent comedies, but it also creates a nurturing environment for the story to take place.