Not much to miss from ‘Miss You Already’

Drama bludgeons audiences with the C-word

By T.T. Stern-Enzi

Photo: Drew Barrymore as Jess and Toni Collette as Milly in “Miss You Already” Rating: PG-13 Grade: D+

Lifelong best friends, Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore), have been co-stars in a long-running saga—The Milly Affair—which has been a Sex and the City inspired account of Milly’s life as seen via Jess as the glorified hanger-on dragged into every frame. Jess narrates the overall story that is “Miss You Already” from director Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen” and “Twilight”), but honestly, she’s barely more than a supporting player in the show, because Milly can’t quite seem to share the spotlight.

It starts off rather innocuously. As young girls, Milly befriends Jess, the new girl in the class and the country (an American in Britain who is made fun of thanks to her accent and a sunny disposition that’s a decade or two behind the times). They share first kisses (with the same boy) and it seems as if they might be on their way to sharing their first sexual encounter with the same guy, but that would have been an entirely different movie, so instead, we come to understand that Milly had sex first and Jess, well, she must have gotten some action later on. This is where things begin to get a little funky for Jess, where Milly takes over, and its not so much that Jess lets her. You see, there’s a reason my initial comparison is Sex and the City, because Milly is cut from the same designer cloth as Carrie Bradshaw (I realize I’m about to alienate more than a few fans of the HBO series and its two feature film continuations).

I was never a Carrie Bradshaw cheerleader. To my mind, she was an abhorrent narcissist and the worst best friend ever with the depth of a teaspoon, and Milly’s got about a drip-drop more substance in her spoon. When the going gets rough—when she’s diagnosed with cancer—she puts on a brave face, rallying her troops. Sexy roadie hubby-turned relatively stable husband and father Kit (Dominic Cooper) joins her in putting on a strong front for the kids, but it is plain to see he’s ill-prepared for what’s to come as the disease will spread and transform their lives, which means Jess will have to pick up the slack (she is telling the tale after all), because all Milly can and will do is remind everyone within earshot that she’s got cancer.

Jess has been the real life mate in this thing anyway, this best girl romance. Jess reminds me of how I used to feel watching Sex and the City with my wife, during those early dating days and in the first years of our marriage. I went along for the ride, but I always knew it wasn’t for me. I could see how one-sided the whole affair was, but there was no point in arguing, at least not until I had truly had enough, which eventually came with the release of the movies.

As much as I disliked “Miss You Already,” I have to admit that I was rather taken with Barrymore’s performance as Jess. She wasn’t playing second fiddle to Collette (who clearly relished being the diva here, a real departure for her, since she generally occupies the second-chair in these kinds of projects). Instead, Barrymore simply lived quietly in each moment, absorbing the onslaught, being the friend, the enabler, the long-suffering sidekick, waiting for her chance to be recognized by her “friend.”

Oddly, on the cancer front, I came away feeling that Barrymore might have actually been a better choice for the Milly role. At least, she might have been able to transform some of the abrasive diva edge that Collette hones into deadly steel. Barrymore sands away at the repeated use of the c-word, in a turn that ultimately feels akin to what stand-up comic Tig Notaro does in her recent work, which tackles her battle with breast cancer. The disease has the ability to strip away at the body, and sadly, in “Miss You Already,” it kills what little humanity Collette’s character might have had.

Reach DCP film critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at and visit his blog for additional film reviews at

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Reach DCP Film Critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at and visit his blog for additional film reviews at You can also follow him on Twitter at @ttsternenzi.

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