“Senior Year” takes two high-concept premises—the going-back-to-high-school film and the waking-up-from-a-coma film—and slams them collectively in an intermittently amusing however largely apparent comedy.
It’s an honest automobile for the bawdy charms of Rebel Wilson, who continues to ascertain herself as an interesting comedian lead past being a reliably irreverent sidekick. And one of many extra impressed selections is the casting of Angourie Rice as Wilson’s teenage self; she truly will get to be Australian, which is uncommon, and she or he precisely channels Wilson’s sly, deadpan supply.
Each actress is up for all of the wacky hijinks the film asks of them, which is why “Senior Year” looks like such a waste of each of their skills. The function filmmaking debut from TV veteran Alex Hardcastle performs like an inventory of early 2000s references introduced energetically to life. Too usually, the movie looks like two hours of that Leonardo DiCaprio pointing-at-the-TV meme from “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” Mentions of CK1 cologne, Smirnoff Ice and Von Dutch denim, and needle drops from the likes of Nelly and Avril Lavigne do put you proper again in a selected popular culture period. (Though the best way “Senior Year” makes use of the Mandy Moore hit “Candy” gives one of many movie’s largest laughs.) However, there’s not a lot of contemporary perception of this explicit interval of post-millennium flux, or into the timeless and poisonous lure of high school reputation.
That’s been the perky, blonde Stephanie’s obsessive quest since she moved to the USA from Australia as an ungainly 14-year-old. With the recommendation she will get from teen magazines—“Three Pounds Is the Difference Between Hot and Obese” screams one headline—she offers herself a makeover, turns into the captain of the cheerleading squad, dates the vapid soccer participant, and units her sights on the last word purpose: being topped, promenade queen.
“If they were this amazing in high school, imagine how perfect the rest of their lives would be,” Stephanie gushes as she stalks the gorgeous, younger married couple down the road who have been promenade king and queen of their day. This can be a real nugget of fact within the script from Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli, and Brandon Scott Jones: the super-popular individuals are likely to peak in high school, then stick around the city to proceed feeling like huge fish in a small pond.
However, Stephanie’s desires are dashed when a daring aerial stunt goes horribly improper at a pep rally. Was her rival and fellow cheerleader Tiffany accountable? Regardless of the trigger, Stephanie winds up in the hospital in a coma for 20 years. When she wakes up, it’s out of the blue 2022, and she or he’s baffled by iPhones and flat display screen TVs. Her candy, widower father (Chris Parnell) has stored her childhood bedroom intact (full of “Clueless” and P!nk posters) all this time. And although she’s now 37 years previous, her first intuition is to return to high school and fulfill her future of turning into a promenade queen.
A newly trim and match Wilson pulls on the cheerleader uniform and poufy, inexperienced ponytail bow and jumps into all of the fish-out-of-water antics. She delivers the shock of her traditional hole not with wide-eyed histrionics but together with her trademark understatement. However as a result of that’s such an intelligent and persistently entertaining method, it makes you would like she had wittier issues to say past marveling at what number of “Fast and Furious” motion pictures have come out over the previous twenty years.
Nonetheless, Wilson enjoys full-of-life chemistry with Mary Holland (“Happiest Season”) and Sam Richardson (“Veep”) as the 2 misfit mates who’ve been caught by Stephanie all this time. (Holland specifically has terrific comedian timing.) Justin Hartley exhibits up because the hunky, grown-up model of her high school boyfriend, who’s now married to mean-girl Tiffany (Zoë Chao). It’s a powerful supporting forge, which makes it irritating that they don’t get a lot to play past a few character traits.
And if “Senior Year” is making an attempt to say something in any respect about how various things are for younger individuals now, it’s not doing so with a lot of power or readability. Stephanie is devastated to find that in an effort to offend nobody and make everybody really feel included, her previous high school has no extra common youngsters or cliquey cafeteria tables, no extra suggestive cheer routines, and—worst of all—no extra promenade king and queen. That is the period through which everybody will get a trophy, and folks love you in the event you submit on social media about how passionate you might be about the atmosphere. Is “Senior Year” mocking this cultural shift as a foul factor, as performative “wokeness,” to borrow a reductive phrase? Or championing it as the required evolution from an archaic mindset?
Doesn’t matter, actually. So long as the script consists of the standard cross-promotional references to exhibits like “Bridgerton” and “Tiger King,” it’ll slot in simply advantageous with the cool youngsters at Netflix.