'Senior Year' review: Play hooky with this lame comedy
Courtesy of Netflix
Trying to be a riff on “13 Going on 30” with an irreverent 21st century millennial spin, “Senior Year” is another lame-duck comedy where the laughs are few and far between. Not for a lack of trying, Rebel Wilson can be quite comical in the right vehicle (the first “Pitch Perfect,” “Jojo Rabbit” or “Isn’t it Romantic” are good examples) but a screenplay by, checks notes, three writers including Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli, and Brandon Scott Jones should’ve probably gone back to the chalkboard before quietly landing on Netflix after original distributor, Paramount Pictures, apparently wanted nothing to do with it. It’s a bummer considering the talent director Alex Hardcastle lined-up, among them “Mare of Eastown” breakout Angourie Rice, Mary Holland, Zoe Chao, Chris Parnell, Sam Richardson who all bring enough passive moments of ho-hum chuckles to keep you from going completely insane.
The premise was already a tough sell and perhaps would have fared better as a stylized sitcom as that’s Hardcastle’s domain. Nevertheless, it follows Wilson’s Stephanie Conway who awakens from a 20-year coma after a botched cheerleading stunt in 2001. (How she arises from her two-decade slumber in perfect hair and makeup is obviously beside the point). Stephanie decides going back to high school, at the age of 38, is the right call for graduation purposes and to fulfill her destiny of becoming prom queen. (I guess they just let anyone do whatever they want now). Little does she know, the school doesn’t award prom king or queen anymore because of inclusivity reasons, a draining subplot that takes up half the movie. Also, the cheerleaders do routines around climate change and gun control. Whoopie!
Of course, it’s 2022 and Stephanie has a-lot of catching up: from what terms are no longer hip with the younger generation (“You can’t just say GAY anymore”) or when she witnesses someone using an I-phone for the first time asks: “Is that a little TV?” Yawn. This is a boring retread of other, much better films and the redemptive arch of someone going back to school saw better results in “Billy Madison.” I did perk up when Sam Richardson was introduced as an old flame who never made it with Stephanie in high school; and Chris Parnell gets some mileage playing the father around for no other reason than to cause awkward tension. Still, against my better judgement, I did laugh.
But that’s about the extent of joy “Senior Year” will provide.
SENIOR YEAR is now streaming on Netflix.