One of the crazy things in Alex Hardcastle’s Senior Year is that one of the characters is dying of cancer yet she still has to perform her motherly duties. She has to assure her daughter, Stephanie Conway (Angourie Rice) that the latter is “beautiful and smart and funny”. These are qualities of a sympathetic enough for a protagonist. But she’s also veering into narcissism. This is what viewers expect for a girl who transforms herself from an awkward Australian immigrant to an American cheer captain. With her squad, she performs one of the routines she has to do in front of the school. Stephanie tumbles and falls wrong, putting her in a coma for twenty years. She wakes up in 2022 as an adult (Rebel Wilson). And she insists on finishing high school with kids who are actually of high school age. And hijinks expectedly ensue.
Senior Year illustrates how much high school and teen culture has changed in twenty years. It also compares what it’s like for the people who have ‘moved on’ from high school in the perspective of someone who hasn’t. One of those people who have moved on is Stephanie’s frenemy Tiffany Blanchette (Ana Yi Puig). She obviously grows up to be an adult (Zoe Chao). And she becomes the head of the PTA who uses that power to double the prices of prom tickets. One more thing about her is that she ends up marrying Stephanie’s boyfriend (Justin Hartley) and both moved into Stephanie’s dream house that originally belonged to Diana Russo (Alicia Silverstone).
Stephanie isn’t totally stuck in 2002 though. She tries to bring that Bush-era Abercrombie spirit to a woke squad (including Jeremy Ray Taylor, Avantika, and Joshua Colley). Together, they perform cheer routines about things like consent. Performing cheerleading routines about things like progressive sexuality is a good idea to pitch in a writer’s room. But it needs good execution to make it funny, and Andrew Knauer and Arthur Pielli’s script fails at doing that.
Some of the supporting actors do good work in Senior Year. I’ve only really seen Zoe Chao in Downhill and she shows versatility here as someone who rides the mean girls to housewives pipeline. Michael Cimino doesn’t get a lot of screen time as a 2022 genderqueer spin on a popular guy, but he evinces enthusiasm and sincerity when he appears on screen. There are also a few aspects here that show an attempt to craftsmanship.
It’s unfortunate then that its worst piece is the one that’s on the forefront – Rebel Wilson. She lost a lot weight for health reasons. Regardless of the way she looks then and now, part of her schtick is about acting younger than she actually is. Yes, skinnier women can be funny. But there’s something about the way she looks now that doesn’t help in delivering the kind of comedy that she was used to doing. This unfortunately brings the movie down quality wise.
- Release Date: 5/13/2022