Senior Year

accreditation
Rebel Wilson in Senior Year.
Rebel Wilson in Senior Year.
Photo: Boris Martin/Netflix

MOVIE:

Senior Year

WHERE TO WATCH:

Netflix

OUR RATING:

2.5/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

A cheerleading stunt gone wrong landed her in a 20-year coma. Now she's 37, newly awake and ready to live out her high school dream: becoming prom queen.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

Awkwardness, bad skin and adults telling you what you can and can't do -  while I didn't hate high school, you can't pay me enough money to want to relive it. Yet Americans have some strange fascination with films about adults going back to their high school days, as if it holds some secret to making their present adult life better.

At face value, Netflix's new bad film Senior Year seems to be just that as cheerleader - I mean cheer captain - Stephanie wakes up from a 20-year coma after a tragic fall during a cheer performance. While her body is 37 years old, her mind is still a teenager, and she decides to pursue her high school dreams before moving on with her life.

Stephanie is played by Rebel Wilson - who looks very different since her last couple of movies in 2019. Surprisingly, her usual bombastic persona is slightly toned down here but still retains her signature humour - which you either love or hate - and Wilson pulls through some surprisingly tearful moments. While the film should be terrible on all accounts, there were some golden moments of comedic timing from the most unexpected sources, then swiftly overshadowed by worn-down clichés and terrible dialogue. It's especially evident by the shoehorning of every 2000s reference and song list ever known, including a reimagining of Britney Spears' (You Drive Me) Crazy music video, yet somehow making cheerleaders unpopular (???). It's designed to clash with the Gen Z high school experience, but it's just too forced and convoluted to make it funny. It might offer some nostalgia for young Gen X'ers or millennials, but anyone born after the 2000s will absolutely hate it.

Luckily, Senior Year is semi-aware of the ridiculousness and bad optics of an almost 40-year-old hanging out with teenagers. It helps that Wilson is just convincing enough to be mentally 17 years old that you can look past it. But then, in the same breath, the adults in her life - her father and two best friends all grown up - are expecting way too much adulting from a girl-woman who was in a coma for 20 years. However, the build-up and character development - including Stephanie's real reason for wanting to be a prom queen - weirdly pays off in the end. The film was stuck between a heartfelt film about what it means to grow up and the facade of popularity, and its more ridiculous elements which could have made for a great off-the-rails comedy. If it had picked a side - been a little more serious or gone all out on the slapstick shenanigans - it might have elevated it just a little bit beyond an enjoyable bad movie.

As for the rest of the cast, there's a delightfully sweet performance from Angourie Rice that perfectly encapsulates Wilson's persona as a younger Stephanie. I would've preferred watching the whole movie with her instead. Another great addition to the cast with his very subtle humour was Sam Richardson from Veep fame, playing one of Stephanie's grown best friends who has - sigh - always had a big crush on her. While the chemistry with Wilson was severely lacking, he still captured your attention with his charm whenever he was onscreen.

The best way to answer whether or not you would have fun with this film entirely depends on where you fall on the Rebel Wilson laugh scale and your ability to not ask too many questions from a movie that puts in bare minimum effort when it comes to common sense. But if you love a good, bad movie and are feeling reminiscent of 2000s classics (I may or may not have sung along to Crazy), then you could do worse than Senior Year.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24