Senior Year (2022) review: Generic high-school comedy

Netflix’s Senior Year is a teenage comedy that tells the story of Stephanie Conway — the cheer captain at Harding High who ends up in a coma after a cheerleading routine accident. She wakes up 20 years later and returns to school as a 37-year-old woman.

Story

Senior Year focuses on teenager Stephanie Conway (Angourie Rice) who moves to the US from Australia and feels like a nobody as freshman year begins. She is a student at Harding High School and finds it hard to navigate life along with her two best friends, Seth (Zaire Adams) and Martha (Molly Brown).

Unable to bear this life in the shadows, Stephanie takes control of her life and rises up the popularity ranks to become the captain of the cheerleading squad. She also scores the hottest guy in school, Blaine (Tyler Barnhardt).

On the day of the senior prom in 2002, Stephanie has an argument with Blaine’s ex and her rival Tiffany who tries to sabotage an aerial stunt Stephanie has to later perform. Due to this, Stephanie gets severely injured and descends into a coma for 20 years.

She wakes up in 2022 as a 37-year-old woman (played by Rebel Wilson) and gets the shock of her life. She meets Martha (Mary Holland) who is now the principal of their school and coaxes her into letting her return and finish high-school.

Along her journey, she faces off against old rivals, makes new friends and comes to terms with her own shortcomings.

Performances

This film is a Rebel Wilson show. Her comic timing and over-the-top shenanigans are what make Senior Year quite an enjoyable experience. She’s believable as a 17-year-old stuck in an adult woman’s body and does well to fit in with her co-cast who is mostly in their late teens.

Angourie Rice as a young Stephanie is also quite entertaining to watch. She does well to present herself as Wilson later would in the film. It really feels like the two collaborated a lot to create and sync Stephanie’s character as both a teenager and an adult.

Mary Holland, Sam Richardson and Zoë Chao play the adult versions of Martha, Seth and Tiffany respectively and add the spice that this film desperately needs. Holland and Richardson are fun to watch as the support pillars to Wilson and essay their part to a T.

Chao’s pure evil portrayal of Tiffany has the typical high-school rival vibe to it that we’ve seen in so many films. It is generic but still sticks the landing with respect to the narrative.

The rest of the cast featuring Molly Brown, Ana Yi Puig, Chris Parnell, Avantika Vandanapu, Joshua Colley, Jade Bender and Justin Hartley, among others is pleasant and do their best with what they’re given.

The casting for Senior Year is one of its strongest points and it shows as the film progresses.

Positives

Senior Year is a typical high-school teenage comedy and is brimming with vibes of nostalgia that point to similar films of the early 2000s. It is a breezy entertainer and fun to get through. The runtime at 113 minutes isn’t too long and the movie goes by pretty swiftly.

The visuals are bright and colourful. The background score laden with songs from Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Mandy Moore and Fort Minor, is full of nostalgia.

Rebel Wilson’s signature quips and one liners feel like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise convoluted plot.

Negatives

The problems with Senior Year lie in its technicalities. The narrative unsuccessfully tries to blend the past with the present. In its attempt to introduce things like Instagram, smart phones and a ‘woke’ mindset to Rebel Wilson’s character, the film confuses itself.

Furthermore, the plot armour is immense. A lot of things work incredibly conveniently for the film to move forward and the believability factor just keeps on diminishing.

Martha being the principal, Seth becoming the love interest after all these years, Stephanie learning to adapt so quickly after 20 years of absence, is just not easy to digest.

Even though the actors do a really good job, their characters do not feel like real people. With their loud and over the top nature mixed with their constant need to be politically correct is a distraction. The comedy as well, except for Wilson’s contribution, is pretty much flat.

Senior Year sets out to be a nostalgic peak into the past but turns into a projection of the need for a ‘woke’ mindset in today’s day and age. The concept is a great one but the execution lets it down. The film may have probably worked better if it was released 20 years ago.

Now if we consider cliched tropes, Senior Year is full of them. It feels like a blend of High School Musical, Mean Girls, 13 Going On 30 and similar films from the genre. Rivalries, relationship bitterness, jealousy, fights for popularity, valuable life lessons, and a lot more plague this film.

Verdict

Senior Year is a light hearted comedy that can be watched once for a light and breezy experience. However, do not try to analyse it too much otherwise it’ll fall flat on its face.

Rating: 2/5


Also Read: Senior Year (2022) summary and ending explained