Director: Alex Hardcastle
Cast: Rebel Wilson, Angourie Rice, Mary Holland, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Avantika Vandanapu, Justin Hartley, Chris Parnell, Alicia Silverstone Genre: Comedy
Duration: 1 hr 40 min
It’s 2002. Stephanie Conway (Angourie Rice) is a popular 17 year old cheer captain at the high school. She has a boyfriend, great friends, a funky wardrobe and uses the trendiest teen lingo. A few weeks from graduation, Stephanie and her team do a routine where the cheerleaders are to throw her 8 feet in the air and catch her. But it goes wrong as they are not able to be her cushion. Steph hits the floor like a sack of potatoes and goes into a coma. Twenty years later, a 37 year old Steph wakes up from the coma to see that her life has… changed quite a bit.
This premise is fertile ground for tons of comical situations and one liners and to some extent, screenwriters Knauer, Pielli and Scott Jones manage to make the audience laugh at the jokes. But much of the potential of the story remains lost in the end product.
Rebel Wilson plays the (physically) grown up Stephanie. She is a teen in her mind and heart although physically she is an adult. Wilson once again proves how gifted and excellent she is as a comic actor, something she has displayed time and again with movies like The Hustle, Isn’t It Romantic and the Pitch Perfect movies, and to say nothing of her riotous turns at the BAFTAs.
Wilson proves perfect for the role as she effortlessly plays off of all the characters she shares scenes and a rapport with. Angourie Rice plays Stephanie’s teen version with as much candour. Rice and Wilson indeed look like they could be sisters and they share mannerisms which help transition the film smoothly from 2002 to 2022.
But the script fails to keep pace with the exceptional actors as it delivers some weak jokes (one joke is just a Gen Z character exaggeratedly explaining in a lengthy speech how much she cares about the environment) and an increasingly lazy, uninterested plot development. By the time the prom and the lead up to graduation, we wonder if this is all there is. Why did I think there will be the entrance of one more major character who we haven’t seen yet? And yet nobody new appears.
We do get a cameo appearance from the 90s American sweetheart, Alicia Silverstone (Clueless). But the buildup to her character isn’t done thoroughly so that some viewers seeing her again may have completely forgotten that she appeared before. And the car scene with her has a life lesson that is so straightforwardly delivered to the audience that it feels like a throwback to 1950s American morality lessons on TV directed to teens.
But Rebel Wilson and the rest of the cast are effervescent and adorable with Wilson especially delivering her comedy chops like a Michelin star chef. It just feels like a let down because Senior Year‘s premise has so much potential which feels largely wasted with the final result feeling shallow and settling for a brainless straight-to-Netflix comedy instead.
‘Senior Year’ is now streaming on Netflix.
On release, it ranked #5 on Movies Today.
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