Graduation Year (2022) – Film Review

senior year2022.

Alex Hardcastle is directing.
Starring Rebel Wilson, Justin Hartley, Angourie Rice, Sam Richardson, Zoe Chao, Mary Holland, Chris Parnell, Jade Bender, Alicia Silverstone, Brandon Scott Jones, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Michael Cimino, Tyler Barnhardt, Molly Brown, Avantika, Tiffany Denise Hobbs , Lucy Taylor, Joshua Colley, Merrick McCartha, Ana Yi Puig, Zaire Adams, Tyler Barnhardt, Allie Nicole Szatmary and Steve Aoki.

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SUMMARY:

A cheerleading stunt gone wrong put her in a 20-year coma. Now she’s 37, freshly woken up and ready to live her high school dream: to be prom queen.

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Comedy-wise, there’s nothing but good things to say about director Alex Hardcastle’s senior year is that Star Rebel Wilson isn’t subject to a barrage of jokes about her character. This is also because the actress has lost a lot of weight and now plays the role of a cheerleader who faces various physical challenges. For that reason alone, it’s easy to see why she might be drawn to the script by Brandon Scott Jones, Andrew Knauer and Arthur Pielli, who are eager to do something different, but the results here are truly awful; senior year is a collection of terrible ideas and somehow even worse execution. It’s aggressively and grossly unfunny two hours to get to the obvious point of showing your real self instead of using a fake version for popularity. Be unique and different than popular.

Played by Angourie Rice as a real life high school grad, Stephanie neglects her true friends (goofy bookworm Seth and unpopular Martha) to join the cheerleading squad and prepare for a future. She’s ashamed of her Australian accent and doesn’t fit in with the cool kids. She sees beauty, popularity, and titles like prom queen as keys to a successful life (as a former prom queen demonstrates in a luxurious home). She also pays no attention to the respectful, romantically interested but shy nerd, considering she’s convinced the hottest guy in school, Blaine, to break up with his beautiful girlfriend Tiffany and keep up a “relationship” for her, which consists mainly of publicly rubbing the bosom area of ​​her cheerleading uniform. Aside from Seth and Martha, these characters are irritating from the start, but once it’s clear that Stephanie’s motivation for becoming prom queen stems from a personal tragedy that includes the death of her terminally ill mother, there’s an undertone of shamelessly forced melodrama underneath all the selfish, annoying behavior.

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Keep in mind that this is only about the first 15 minutes senior year, who sees the fake friends intentionally drop Stephanie onto the floor skull first during a cheer routine set to catchy 2000s Jam Hot in Nelly’s Herre. It turns out one such incident left Stephanie in a coma for 20 years, where she wakes up in 2022 physically aged (and now played by Rebel Wilson), still with the mind of a 17-year-old. What follows is an onslaught of fish-out-of-water humor as Stephanie reconnects with everyone in her past (the warm and suave Sam Richardson now plays Seth, Blaine is Justin Hartley, now married to Zoe Chao’s Tiffany, and Mary Holland is Martha), with virtually everyone working for the school and helping to re-enroll Stephanie to finish her final month of high school. She still treats them like garbage.

The real reason Stephanie wants to return is to fulfill her dream of being prom queen. There is also a moment when senior year flashes back to the teenage Stephanie, leading to the assumption that the script will stick with both ages of the character, but it’s really for an emotionally manipulative sequence with her ailing mother. What’s more, the first 30 minutes or so seem very confused, as if the filmmakers didn’t know where to put the focus when writing the script. However, this is practically a moot point considering whether it is 2002 or 2022, senior year only uses his characters for cheap jokes. Even gags about inclusivity and political correctness come across as fishy here.

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It’s hard to figure out what fails the screenwriters more; Laughter through an informed portrayal of high school life or social media. Either way, Stephanie must earn the friendship of Instagram influencer Bri (Jade Bender), daughter of her high school rival Tiffany, in order to resume the contest to be the king and queen of prom (it rewards outdated gender roles). There seem to be jokes about how some people embody performative alertness in order to move forward in life (in Bri’s defense, the misguided aspects come from her mother’s pressure) that fall flat and get nowhere. Early in the film, Stephanie’s father (Chris Parnell) is suggested to get back on the dating scene, with the present day teasing that he’s worked things out with his daughter’s best friend, Martha, that’s not just gross and not funny, but turns out to be a misdirection for something else that’s being slammed together with no direction. Meanwhile, Stephanie befriends two misfit seniors, which becomes the only thing tolerable about the film as she slowly learns to embrace the perks of being unique.

Still, all of these characters, Stephanie in particular, have been overwhelmingly tacky, grossly, and annoyingly self-centered for far too long to be around. The concept is tasteless and continues to bring problematic elements that would be forgivable if the film were laugh-eliciting. I would say senior year most likely crashes and burns, but the movie does it even after two minutes.

Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]

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