It’s always fun going back to the old stomping grounds by visiting your college town, that is if you’re not going through some problems like the main character in this movie is.
Written and directed by Kris Rey, “I Used to Go Here” follows Kate (Gillian Jacobs), an author whose first book was recently published. However, the sales aren’t going all that well, and her relationship status is difficult.
Needing a change of scenery, Kate accepts an invitation to speak at her alma mater, which was sent by a professor, David (Jemaine Clement), who taught one of her classes. During her time there, she talks with David about her career and also goes to a party at a frat house, which used to be where her and her friends lived while she attended school.
“I Used to Go Here” is a very nice gem of a movie. The flick is very much focused on the main character’s arc, and it’s enjoyable to watch unfold. This is thanks to a nice balance of drama, which comes in the form of introspective moments and character interactions, and solid comedy.
The only problem comes in the fact that there’s just not enough material here. “I Used to Go Here” clocks in at 80 minutes, and while the movie as a whole is an enjoyable, well paced picture, it could’ve used some more time to be a stronger, more well rounded film.
When the credits roll, there’s a feeling the movie could’ve been richer and more substantive than what’s provided. It’s not to say the material is poor, just that it needed to be built up and fleshed out more.
What does work consistently well are the characters and cast that portrays them. While a few of the characters lean into generic territory, for the most part the main group is a good, diverse bunch.
The college students here aren’t portrayed just as simple party animals, even though one of them has the nickname of Animal, and they offer some insight that plays into the main story. Clement is solid in the role of the professor, too, capturing that stage where a teacher is sort of a professional equal to a former student but also somewhat a mentor.
As previously stated, though, the movie is all about the main character, and Kate is a solid protagonist. She has some flaws, but is still charming and rather relatable in many ways. Watching her navigate this long weekend in her college town is endearing.
The character of course works thanks in part to Jacobs. She really captures the mix of excitement and awkwardness when a person runs into someone they used to know a few years ago and is convincing during the more dramatic moments.
Credit also has to go to Rey, who wrote and directed a film with a good share of humor and heart. There is a recurring bit about a Bed and Breakfast manager that is not really effective in producing laughs, but for the most part the humor lands.
“I Used to Go Here” is great way to spend an hour and a half. It doesn’t push the bar on the genre, but it’s still a compelling and fun movie about advancing in one’s life. 3.85 out of 5.