I don’t think I speak out of turn by saying this is a Groundhog Day for teenagers, in fact I may even be helping your enjoyment. If I hadn’t know that, I think the first 10-15 minutes would have sent me running as the young leads are far too good at their clique-ish hatefulness to make me want to stay. It isn’t a trait I find attractive or even compelling. However, knowing it was the base from which change was going to come, I understood the extreme start of the tale and just strapped in for the ride.
The success of the movie is down to Zoey Deutch (Why Him?). While there is nothing particularly surprising in this tale of growing up and coming to terms, but it is effective in its message. But leaping past that, the journey that Deutch’s character takes is very gripping. She is allowed to find the frustration, anger, and even humor of it all so that she can also finally find the solution (which is painfully obvious from the outside looking in).
Anchoring the story with Deutch are alumns from Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Logan Miller and Halston Sage who both put in solid performances. Miller, in particular, is a nice and unexpected choice for his role. Jennifer Beals (Taken) and Nicholas Lea (Continuum) as Deutch’s parents add a small balance to the teenage-run-amok feel of the rest of the story, which helps keep it the least bit credible.
Oddly, though Deutch drives the tale, she is also part of the problems the film runs into. Deutch is just a couple years too old to believably play High School. In fact, though the main cast is all within a couple years of their character ages, those couple years really do make a difference visually, especially for Deutch. It isn’t a constant problem, but every once in a while it pulled me out of the story, which became a distracting issue.
Issues aside, this movie, at the right time, could be very powerful for an audience. It is a great reminder to live life, really live it. It isn’t a new message and this doesn’t dress it up in a new way, but it does it competently and with enough flair and earnestness to make it work. It is certainly aimed at young women, which is also why it could make a solid date movie for a lot of folks as well. Having seen this, I may need to go read Oliver’s book now as well given how much must have been internal monologues.