I Used to Go Here

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
I Used to Go Here Movie Poster Image
Awkward slice-of-life dramedy has college partying, sex.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 80 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Nostalgia is sweet but unfulfilling.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are flawed, not intended as obvious role models. Diversity in representation among supporting cast.

Violence
Sex

Non-explicit romantic/sex scenes between adult authority figures and college students. Characters shown in non-revealing bra and underwear. Love, marriage, crushes, infidelity are part of plot. Making out. A woman is crudely told she's the subject of sexual objectification.

Language

Sporadic cursing includes "a--hole," "d--k," and several uses of "f--k." "Jesus" as an exclamation.

Consumerism

Miller Lite sign and Apple laptop featured prominently. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several instances of main character and college students drinking heavily, doing drugs, smoking pot, driving on Ambien, and vaping -- all made to look fun, cool, and normal, with no consequences. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Used to Go Here is an awkward comedy about a 30-something author (Gillian Jacobs) who's in the midst of a personal and professional crisis when she returns to her college as a distinguished alumnus. While the comedy cred is high -- it was produced by Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island troupe, and Jacobs is popular thanks to Community -- it's more uncomfortable than funny. There's no strong message or takeaway; it's more a slice of life about the desire to romanticize the past when the present is tough. College is portrayed as appealing for the camaraderie and education but also for hard partying: Characters drink heavily, do drugs, smoke pot, drive on Ambien, and vape, all with litte consequence. A few characters get into May-December romantic entanglements, some of which involve sexual situations. Characters are shown in underwear and make out. Strong language isn't constant but includes "d--k," "a--hole," and "f--k."

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What's the story?

In I USED TO GO HERE, author Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs) is dealing with a breakup when she learns that her publisher is canceling her book tour. Feeling low, she accepts an offer to return to her college for a speaking engagement and embraces the comfort of coming home to the place where she first developed her potential.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how drinking and drug use are portrayed in the movie. Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Do you consider Kate a role model? Why or why not? Does she display any character strengths?

  • Have you seen other movies about adults returning to college or high school? What do you think makes that an appealing theme or premise?

  • Talk about the difference between what we imagine adulthood and success will look like versus what it's really like.

Movie details

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