Starring Rebel Wilson, Senior Year merges the 00s saccharine comedy genre into a 2022 cyber-progressive setting. A film that tries hard to engross both a millennial and Gen Z audience but ends up leaving them as lost to its purpose as Stephanie awaking from her coma.
Netflix offers a fair share of cheesy high school comedies but once you’ve seen one, you’ve kind of seen them all. Senior Year had the potential to bring a fresh perspective to the genre but it barely broke out of the mould.
Despite the contemporary setting, the film fell into the familiar tropes and cliches: the nerd who becomes popular, the douchebag jock and the queen bee shoved off her throne. And what does all the drama centre around? All too predictably, the plot of the film is focused on prom.
I’ll admit, I had high hopes. The 2000s fashion nostalgia was fitting to the TikTok Y2K trends of 2022, and it really seemed like the director (Alex Hardcastle) knew his audience. But the effect was only surface level, with underdeveloped characters, overhyped clichés and base-level comedy.
The major problem for me was the film’s main character, Stephanie. And the problem was simple: I couldn’t see Stephanie. It was Rebel’s usual shtick, but without the chemistry with her co-stars to bounce off of. This meant that at moments the laugh-factor fell flat and without a sentimental attachment to Stephanie from the audience, the film fell flat too.
However, fresh talent did hit the spotlight.
Ana Yi Piug starred as Young Tiffany and despite only being on screen for the opening of the film, she made her mark amongst the cast.
It was refreshing to see Joshua Colley (Yaz) make the transition from stage to screen, displaying a stunningly relatable friendship with co-star Avantika Vandanapu (Janet).
But enjoyable acting can’t make up for a plotline that had the opportunity to make a strong statement on today’s society, but instead made a seemingly meaningless parody of it.
Somehow the setting still got skewed into some sort of fantastical high school utopia, reminiscent of 17 Again, Mean Girls and Booksmart. But what these films have that Senior Year doesn’t is that central coming of age theme of feeling lost as to what comes after high school.
Stephanie may be older than the typical high schooler, but mentally she’s stuck there. And the character development doesn’t seem to take her past basic human decency, let alone thinking of the future.
Senior Year feels just as disingenuous as its main character, making a mockery of its main message: to be yourself.
Featured Image Credit: Netflix.com