Despite an A+ premise, senior year fails to graduate as class leader

Sam Richardson and Rebel Wilson in final year

Sam Richardson and Rebel Wilson in Secondary year
Picture: Boris Martin/Netflix

It doesn’t take long to Secondary year to lay out its wacky premise, which centers on a popular high school girl who wakes up from a two-decade coma and, hoping to pick up where she left off, strives to finish her senior year at the age of 37. . minutes, we are transported into the fray of this woman’s disordered state of arrested development. And although director Alex Hardcastle and screenwriters Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli and Brandon Scott Jones take the intelligent concept of a person caught out of time in high school to heart, just like the ingenious 21 jump street and never been kissed In fact, this Netflix Original lacks the power of those cinematic predecessors to stick the landing.

After moving to the United States from Australia, impressionable teenager Stephanie (Angourie Rice) was desperate to fit in with the popular crowd. Leaning into trending magazines and MTV, sporting the right wardrobe, and following accepted social norms helped our young heroine become the most popular girl in her high school by her senior year. Now she’s on track for her so-called perfect life – driving a red convertible, dating the sexiest guy in class, Blaine (Tyler Barnhardt), and being named cheer squad captain. – or at least that’s what she thinks. Tragedy strikes when jealous class bully Tiffany (Ana Yi Puig) sabotages their show, Bring it on– routine of joy, landing the 17-year-old in a hospital bed, stuck in a coma.

On her 37th birthday, Stephanie wakes up to find that not only has her body changed, but so has the world around her. There are all sorts of popular new things, from cellphones to superstars, to discover, and it’s all no welcome surprise. Her teenage aspirations to one day own the most picturesque house in town are quickly dashed when she discovers that adults Tiffany (Zoe Chao) and Blaine (Justin Hartley) are married and living there. Yet, instead of going into a state of shock, she decides to get her life back on track, go back to school, and achieve the one goal she couldn’t: be crowned Prom Queen. However, this proves difficult as the school has long outlawed competition and she must navigate contemporary social mores to reinstate it.

Painfully simplistic in its execution, which frequently undercuts its clever set-up and featuring unlikable and poorly drawn characters, the film works overtime for audiences to actively dislike. Stephanie’s two closest friends – insecure dog-eyed Seth (Sam Richardson) and kind-hearted, smiley Martha (Mary Holland) – act as her conscience, but forgive her far too easily when she is inevitably called upon to do so. Others, like Tiffany and her socially conscious daughter Bri (Jade Bender), Stephanie’s contemporary rival, experience an undeserved change, though the latter receives the most compelling arc in history. Plus, satisfying resolutions are noticeably toned down, dampened by frustrating creative choices.

Since the protagonist is a 2002 transplant, and her way of speaking (aggressively abusing the term “bitch”), Dance, and the dress is straight from that year, the vibes of that movie are on par with popular teen coms of that era. This level of insight seems accidental because neither of these filmmakers breaks new ground with their own ideas. It’s not too bad, however, as they admirably comment on stereotypes and gender politics, making funny fish-out-of-water jokes at Stephanie’s expense in the process.

Wilson, who previously played a woman with a head injury in the much funnier and sharper romantic comedy send-off Isn’t it romantic, nails the physique of a spoiled, selfish teenager perfectly – feigning embarrassment, touching her face with her hands, slouching her shoulders and making a cute moan. His nuance also elevates the material, especially in the third act, when the script calls for him to sell his character’s inevitable change from selfish to selfless. Her scenes with writer-actor Jones, who also co-starred with her in the aforementioned film, show their pleasant rapport, but unfortunately cannot save the image.

There aren’t many modern movies focusing on the female midlife crisis, and it’s unlikely to inspire more to do – too bad, given that with more craftsmanship and care, Secondary year could have been much more significant, even genuinely shocking. While the goofy shenanigans and hijinks don’t garner much heart or humor, its quick pace and comedic prowess from the leading lady make it just worthy enough for your Netflix queue. Don’t expect to throw your cap in the air when this is over.

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