Senior Year offers the odd chuckle but struggles to bring anything new to the table.
Starring: Rebel Wilson, Sam Richardson, Zoe Chao, Mary Holland, Justin Hartley, Angourie Rice, Chris Parnell, and Jade Bender
Directed by: Alex Hardcastle
Tagline: High school has changed. But she hasn’t.
nspired by turn-of-the-millennium teen comedies, the new Netflix offering Senior Year revives your usual high school film cliches for some bawdy fun. But it fails to make the most of its promising premise or bring anything new to the well-worn genre.
The film follows the tale of Stephanie Conway (portrayed as a teen by Angourie Rice and as a grown-up by Rebel Wilson), a high-schooler who manages to achieve the popularity she yearns for by giving herself a makeover and becoming the captain of the cheer squad. But a jealousy-driven accident leaves her in a coma, from which she awakens 20 years later to find herself in a world very different from what she remembers.
In an attempt to reclaim her life, she decides to go back to high school – which is now being run by her childhood friend Martha (Mary Holland) – with the aim of achieving her original, unfulfilled goal: becoming prom queen.
That, though, is easier said than done. Things have changed significantly since the last time she set foot on school grounds. Not only are risque cheer routines no longer in vogue in this woke modern world, but cheerleaders no longer rule the teen totem pole. Popularity now revolves around a toxic social media ecosystem, which is led in this instance by Bri Balboa (Jade Bender), the daughter of her old nemesis Tiffany Blanchette (Zoe Chao) who is – to make matters even worse – now married to Stephanie‘s old boyfriend Blaine (Justin Hartley). Oh, and prom queen isn’t even a competitive title anymore, so winning the crown is significantly trickier than Stephanie would have expected.
As she tries to make her way in this new world, those who love her – including her father (Chris Parnell), her childhood friend Seth (Sam Richardson) who is still harbouring a crush on the protagonist, and the aforementioned Martha – are there to offer a helping hand. But it will take Stephanie a few missteps to learn to appreciate what – and who – is really important in life.
The movie potentially has an interesting set up in its anachronistic back-to-school premise, but it doesn’t really do anything particularly interesting or different with the idea. Much of the film’s appeal depends on the level of nostalgia you have for turn of the century pop culture and whether you enjoy Wilson’s usual (and to some grating) shtick.
Powered by its leading lady’s crass hijinks and peppered with way too many dance routines, Senior Year is cheesy, often crude, and mostly affable, but it never comes even close to matching the charm of the high school comedies – from Never Been Kissed to Mean Girls – that clearly inspired it. And it isn’t exactly the best thing when all a film ultimately does is remind you of far better movies.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection