'Do Revenge' review: Savvy teenage comedy has plenty of bite
Courtesy of Netflix
High school set teenage revenge comedies feel like relics of bygone eras and savvy, smart ones are even harder to find, however, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s “Do Revenge” manages to evoke memories of high school comedy classics: “Clueless” and “Mean Girls” while upping the satirical factor, targeting social cliques, the #MeToo movement and getting cancelled. Featuring a hip, young cast that includes rising stars Maya Hawke, Camila Mendes, Austin Abrams, and Alisha Boe, “Do Revenge” faithfully deconstructs the high school movie formula, crafting a daft and self-aware comedy where the laughs come as my quickly as the twists.
It begins as all these movies do: with a popular main character who is about to have a major fall from grace, also known as the proverbial high school food chain. “Riverdale” breakout Camila Mendes stars as Drea, the most highly lauded girl in a prestigious Harvard-prep school with a slick, rich-girl posse, and an elite, well connected boyfriend (played by Abrams of “Paper Towns” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” fame). Life couldn’t be better for the future ivy-league bound student until an unfortunate turn of events ends up revoking her Queen Bitch status and she goes on the prowl for blood and new social clout.
Enter the geeky and quiet Elanor (Hawke) who links up with Drea at a tennis country club and concocts a scheme to infiltrate her old friend group from the inside and destroy their reputations. It won’t be easy considering the group is headed by Boe’s snarkish and likable Tara and Abrams suave and uber progressive student body president (in one of the films several hilarious gags, he creates a pro-feminist group with some of his heterosexual buds), which forces the girls to get crafty and it may or may not involve getting the entire senior class high on shrooms.
Hawke and Mendes find the sweet and tender spot between campy and honest: they make a great pair even as it becomes apparent where their relationship might end-up. Robinson and co-writer Celeste Ballard aren’t above incorporating high school genre troops or borrowing from the brand like the obvious “10 Things I Hate About You” inspired scene between Mendes and her love interest throwing paint balloons at each other. Another includes a surprise extended cameo Netflix has asked reviewers not to reveal. Still, “Do Revenge” has plenty of gas in the tank to cruise on the charm Hawke and Mendes radiate alongside a cheekily inventive plot that knows exactly who it’s skewering.
DO REVENGE debuts on Netflix Friday, September 16th.