REBEL WILSON AND CAST SHINE IN “SENIOR YEAR”
Written by Tony Schultz on May 23, 2022
There are a number of movies out there where the main character has a trip to the future or body shift to a different age or a different timeline. “Freaky Friday”, “Big”, “13 Going On 30”, “Family Man”, “A Christmas Carol” ….. the list goes on in different manners and directions including kids being put in adult jobs and vice versa. “Senior Year” on Netflix, starring Rebel Wilson takes it to the next level. Where all those other movies have a point of redemption and a return to normal this movie has a twist: there is no going back. Stephanie is a girl who strives for popularity in high school working hard to move up the social status ladder, but also keeping her friends close that she grew up with. There are the typical high school movie tropes: the hot boyfriend, the antagonistic other popular girl, the best friends, and the event that catapults the story line. In this case that event is a cheer stunt gone wrong which puts our main character into a coma for 20 years. This is where Wilson comes in and applies her unique sense of comedy, timing, and ability to improvise her scenes as the now adult Stephanie. Upon awaking she is still a 17 year old kid trapped in adult body and makes the decision that she needs to go back to school to finish up here senior year.
While the story is about Wilson getting back to where she was and reclaiming her popularity you are left wondering, what the point of it is? We know that she can’t go back in time and have a do-over or change the timeline. How can she really learn anything? The smart thing they do is not concentrate so much on getting her school work done and making jokes about “math being different” or catching up on the latest trends to the point that all you get is jokes about how “things were different 20 years ago. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean?) While it definitely touches on those and even makes fun of the early 2000’s movie themes and shooting styles it doesn’t bog itself down in these low hanging fruit jokes. Rebel has a very unique sense of humor that I thought would not carry over to a high school student because her style is to be overly aware of her jokes and acting oddly uncomfortable when no one reacts to them. My wife was concerned with this because she doesn’t always like Wilson’s style. Needless to say I was concerned as well. However, she pulled it off well, and it allowed all of her costars to shine as brightly if not brighter at times. Mary Holland as Martha, Stephanie’s best friend plays her grown up version very well and gives off the performance of the overly nervous high school principal and has some great lines. With Sam Richardson playing Seth who is the third friend in the group that is still stuck in the Friend Zone after 20 years there is a great dynamic of balance between the three of them. Add in Chris Parnell as her father who is caring, but not just the dumb or overly protective dad. Parnell really shows a side of his acting we didn’t get to see on Saturday Night Live or any comedy he has been in before. Truly every character gets a line or moment that will make you laugh out loud or feel like you got a different view of the character.
I really did enjoy “Senior Year” as I stated before I was a bit concerned. When you have an actress with a style like Rebel Wilson some people immediately blow it off. It’s like watching Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey in a movie that is built to accentuate their style and humor and become a bit of a run on joke. I was afraid that this movie would be more like “Billy Madison”, but it was more like “Big”. While there are the comedic moments and overdone themes that we have seen in teen comedies there are also twists on them. We know that the popular kids are going to do something mean and that the hero will overcome it in some fashion, but the way some of these moments get resolved is refreshing. The movie does a great job of making fun of slow-motion-walks and musical moment. They also do a great job of using the changes in how someone becomes popular now as compared to 20 years ago without beating us over the head with it and that someone can still be mean even when they are acting as if they are the best person they can be. There are a few times where I wished they had spent a little more time on the character growth, but it doesn’t feel rushed. And I felt this movie had a little more heart to it than the standard teen movies where everyone gets a little more emotionally exposed in their own ways. There is a bit of a plot hole that the Internet is going over, but just rmember you’re watching a move. I think that was the best part of watching “Senior Year” is the pleasant surprise I felt watching that I wasn’t disappointed by my expectations. So if you’re looking to watch a teen comedy and get a bit of nostalgia for the “American Pie” years you should enjoy “Senior Year” for everything it is and little bit more.