Senior Year Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
This Rebel Wilson comedy misses the mark! Leaning heavily on nostalgic feelings, while trying to satisfy a new generation at the same time, Senior Year is more cringe than laugh!
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance
Director: Alex Hardcastle
Cast: Rebel Wilson, Angourie Rice, Mary Holland, Sam Richardson, Molly Brown, Zaire Adams, Zoe Chao, Ana Yi Puig, Jade Bender, Avantika, Joshua Colley, Chris Parnell, Justin Hartley & Alicia Silverstone.
Run Time: 111 min.
US Release: 13 May 2022 (Netflix)
UK Release: 13 May 2022 (Netflix)
German Release: 13 May 2022 (Netflix)
Netflix is not having a good year with their original films. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (for which I have a review, just need to upload it) is abysmal, The Adam Project (which I still need to review) is mediocre at best, and The Bubble was a snoozefest of a satire. The latest flick that can be deposited right next to this pile of mediocre trash, is Hardcastle’s feature film debut which stars Rebel Wilson. A vile, very derivative, comedy that is rather cringe than laughs. So let’s talk about… Senior Year!
When a high school cheerleading stunt gone wrong, leaves Stephanie in a coma from which she awakes 20 years later, the now 37-year-old sets everything in motion to fulfil her dream of becoming prom queen.
The screenplay by Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli and Brandon Scott Jones, is nothing original, but rather a recycled plot of 00s rom-coms, like 13 going on 30, mixed with raunchy humour that clashes with the new generation's woke voice. Tonally completely uneven, this comedy is a mess with the most predictable storytelling structure. The jokes are mostly cringing, using extreme sexual language and it is uncomfortable seeing a 40-year-old woman, making sexual inuendos in front of a young cast, that is meant to play high school teenagers.
The thought of using a teenager, who was left in a coma for 20 years and wakes up in an adult body, is an interesting concept, which could have been used for an emotionally richer plot. Good comedy plays of dramatic moments, and the psychological implications in such a situation would have made for a great basis on which to build a funny movie. Sadly those moments are seldom explored, only touched upon superficially, to quickly skip to the next sex joke. Yes, it had its segments of funny moments, but mostly it was uncomfortable to watch with forgettable humour.
The dialogues reflect lazy scriptwriting. Characters use crass language, constantly hinting toward private body parts or sex perse. What was funny and shocking in the first couple of minutes, turns into boring uninspiredness for the rest of the film. I grew up during that time and know that we used more cursing in our day-to-day language, however, here it is excessively exaggerated.
Once again, the characters are written shallow and are easily replaceable. Most developments can be foreseen a mile away, being pretty generic. While some personas have the potential to stir up interesting narratives, those paths are never developed, leading back to substandard progress in the story.
Rebel Wilson and Angourie Rice portray the lead character Stephanie; Rice as the 17-year-old cheerleader in 2002, Wilson after waking up from the coma 20 years later. Wilson, who practically plays herself in this flick, uses a lot of the typical juicy dialogue she is known for. The character herself is sadly very forgettable, with little depth. There are missed opportunities that could have made not only for good humorous moments but also dramatic ones if explored further. For example, adapting to a new era of technological advances or learning about the use, as well as misuse of social media platforms and influencers, which is AGAIN portrayed in the most shallow possible way.
Mary Holland and Sam Richardson play Stephanie's best friends Martha and Seth respectively. Martha took me a little bit by surprise, as she does reveal a secret about herself during the end of the second act, which I didn’t see coming. However, nothing is done with that information. Seth’s path is foretelling since the first scene hits the screen! Another lazy written character that holds no surprises or elements that could enrich the story.
Zoe Chao as Stephanie's high school rival Tiffany, gives a good enough rendition when it comes to fake kindness, once she finds Stephanie in her front yard, 20 years after graduating. It is also interesting to see how new moral values are simply cast to the site, twisted into something sinister when an old rivalry awakens in somebody. Still, Tiffany is, like all the other characters, completely interchangeable.
Justin Hartley is sadly absolutely misused, having barely any lines. He is portrayed as the dumb, video gaming, sex-driven husband of Tiffany, who used to be Stephanie's ex-boyfriend in high school and is now trapped in a loveless marriage. A missed opportunity to give a character a voice, to speak out on the issue of unhappy marriages.
Finally, the cast is rounded off with Chris Parnell, as Stephanie's father Jim Conway, who is also criminally underused. Jim is the standard loveable, yet somewhat dimwitted parent, who gives good advice during the last moments of runtime.
The cinematography is botch-standard, mimicking similar comedies of the 2000s era. The colours are vibrant, the picture well lit but other than that there is nothing really special about the camera work. There are no real special effects either, it's a pretty plane, down to earth comedy in that field. The dancing choreographies were well performed, although, the stunts-doubles that replace Wilson on film, during backflips, for instance, are noticeable. Make-up and costume design are good, representative of each era.
The music choices are representative of the main character’s era she comes from; a lot of pop, remixes, or hip-hop is used. Sadly these songs are too dominant, when it comes to the score, while Jermaine Stegall’s composition feels also, like something we heard before.
Verdict: Alex Hardcastle's first feature movie is a plain, raunchy comedy that is way too long, better suited 20 years ago when films like these cannibalised each other. The narrative consists of clumsy humour, using vulgar language. Character development is minimal and feels un-earned, even cheap. The personas themselves are all boxed into stereotypes, as well as being exchangeable. Rebel Wilson plays basically herself, while Justin Hartley, who could have been an interesting character, gets practically no screen time. The camera work is Netflix standard, though it has a couple of nice choreographed dance scenes, while the music is simply a cheap recycle of the 00s greatest hits. I am already starting to forget what this flick was all about, having seen it just two days prior. It beats, however, the absolutely boring The Bubble! All in all, Senior Year obtains just a 3.5 out of 10.
Have you seen Senior Year yet? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and thank you for reading!