May 13th, 2022
MOVIE: SENIOR YEAR
STARRING: REBEL WILSON, MARY HOLLAND, SAM RICHARDSON, ZOE CHAO, CHRIS PARNELL, ANGOURIE RICE
DIRECTED BY: ALEX HARDCASTLE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The easiest way to describe Senior Year is that it’s Forever Young mixed with Never Been Kissed. Or maybe there’s a better movie to reference like Back to School, but it seems sacreligious to even compare the work of Rebel Wilson to Rodney Dangerfield, so that’s not where this movie goes. Either way, it’s not all bad in Alex Hardcastle’s comedy, where a high school cheerleader has a bad fall, which sends her into a coma for twenty-years, and when she wakes up she has aspirations of finishing her last year of high school. It’s certainly a throwback style of body swap or situational comedy, such as Big, 13 Going on 30, or Billy Madison, and although the plot is predictable, Senior Year has enough charm to make the trip back to high school worth it.
We meet Stephanie in high school (played by Angourie Rice), a girl that tries harder to be popular than anything, sometimes ignoring her true friends Martha and Seth. She’s a member of the cheer squad, dating popular guy Blaine Balboa, but still wanting to be liked by everyone. As a teenager, Stephanie has big dreams of being prom queen, marrying her high school sweetheart, and having a family. That is, until competitive counterpart Tiffany sabotages her cheer routine, causing her to be dropped, and leaving her in a coma. Things fast forward twenty-years to her waking up and now Stephanie is Rebel Wilson, wondering what happened, and devising a plan to get back to high school one more time.
There are a lot of caveats that come with watching Senior Year and the big one is if Rebel Wilson’s brand of comedy annoys you or makes you laugh. For me, I find her to be quite talented in her delivery, which is not overbearing like Amy Schumer and not over the top slapstick like Melissa McCarthy. The other caveats are that you can’t expect anything too serious from the direct to Netflix movie and it will satiate the carefree kind of escape you might seek on the weekend. You throw in the charm of older Martha- now principal of the high school and played by the hilarious Mary Holland- and older Seth- now played by the always delightful Sam Richardson- and you have a relatively charming collection of young actors.
One of the major problems is that Senior Year is not roll on the floor funny but more of a charming throwback. It’s Never Been Kissed without the creepy prospects of a high school teacher falling for his student or Billy Madison without the toilet humor. This is an 80’s style comedy, in the vein of a classic such as Pretty in Pink, where the popular kid is a bully, the high school hunk turns out to be a dud, and our lead character learns something in the process of her pursuit of popularity. There’s also a few impromptu dance sequences and that climactic build up to prom night. Pulling it all along is the charm of Wilson which finds the balance between ridiculous and delightfully funny.
Senior Year is not setting the world of comedy ablaze but it is refreshing to see something new, taking the electric comedy talents of Rebel Wilson, which we saw in the Pitch Perfect series, and harnessing that for a fresh new form of laughs. You add in the always charming Sam Richardson as a potential love interest, Chris Parnell as the perfectly oblivious father to the cast, and Mary Holland’s perfectly quirky brand of acting, and you have enough to cling onto. Senior Year might not be going home with the crown, but it is a worthy enough throwback to take us back to school.
SENIOR YEAR IS AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX MAY 13TH, 2022
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady