Writer-director Kris Rey's dramedy is a slice-of-life portrayal that's big on relatability but small on earth-shattering realizations. Sometimes (if not all that often, these days) a movie exists simply to give you a portrait of a person who's going through something -- no real message, no big teachable moment. It just is -- and hopefully it helps you understand humanity a little more. The comedy in I Used to Go Here comes from those little, identifiable moments: opening a heavily taped package by pulling with all your might, calling an ex when you know it's the most self-defeating thing you can do, and experiencing slightly awkward moments of politeness with strangers when traveling alone. In her performance, Jacobs makes viewers identify with how uncomfortable Kate Conklin has become in her own skin.
All the progress Kate has made seems to be slipping: Her novel was published, but the tour was canceled; her wedding was planned, but her engagement was broken. Kate's regression continues when she returns to Southern Illinois University with the elevated stature of published author, hoping her bruised confidence will be lifted. She's welcomed with reverence by her former professor (Jemaine Clement) and the students in the creative writing department. Here's someone who made it, who seems to have achieved the dream! Kate, once filled with the confidence that comes with accomplishment, now strengthens herself with their adoration while simultaneously feeling she's a bit of a fraud. Authentic, yes, but maybe not the most helpful message for young women, who tend to fight self-doubt more often than their male counterparts. Engulfed in the students' eager acceptance, Kate starts acting more like a peer than an aspirational figure, and she participates in some activities that are cringey at best and illogical at most. However, in some of the film's final moments, Kate shares self-realizations that teens may draw on as insight as they head out into the world.