Netflix's new original comedy film, Senior Year starring Rebel Wilson, is getting slated by critics around the world and yet, I once again find myself disagreeing with the general consensus.
Warning: minor spoilers for Senior Year on Netflix
The story begins with 17-year-old Stephanie Conway (played by Spider-Man's Angourie Rice), an Australian immigrant who dreams of becoming prom queen, only to have the chance snatched away when a cheerleading incident goes wrong. This leads to a 20-year coma that sees the now 37-year-old woman (Wilson) determined to complete high school and reclaim the title that was set to be hers.
Is it something that will be nominated for an Oscar? Probably not. Does it make for easy watching and offers a lot of fun along the way? Absolutely. It's also great to see Rebel Wilson back in a leading, comedic role after a two-year gap away from the big screen. A big reason why I liked Senior Year is down to the actress, and that will depend on your preference too. Senior Year plays more to Wilson's strengths with physical comedy and off-the-wall zany one-liners, something that worked splendidly in the Pitch Perfect series and not so much in movies like The Hustle.
That's why it's surprising that Senior Year has obtained a 27% score on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab), meaning that 73% of reviews were below positive. I get comedy is subjective but this seems quite harsh. It's very coming-of-age and feel good, clearly taking inspiration from the likes of Easy A, Mean Girls and more on the nose than any, Clueless. If you like these sorts of teen flicks, you'll like Senior Year.
There are some terrific fantasy moments, such as Stephanie arriving at high school for the first time in 20-years believing she is still as cool and popular as when she left while glamorous close-ups and pop music play in the back. It then cuts to what is really happening with a deluded Stephanie dancing in the school's entrance deep in her own daydream. There are plenty of these little funny moments scattered throughout, including an unexpected Britney Spears music video homage that I wouldn't want to ruin.
It's clearly been a hit with Netflix (opens in new tab) subscribers too, amassing 55.94 million hours of viewing time and earning itself the "number one spot on English Films list" in its first five days of debuting. This has also helped it remain within the Top 10 Netflix rankings in 93 countries, beating out competition from new, hot documentary, Our Father, and we're all well aware of just how popular Netflix documentaries are. The platform was basically built on them and Stranger Things.
It's not the first time I've disagreed with critics when it comes to comedies. Judd Apatow's The Bubble also received poor reviews earlier this year and I found it very watchable, though I'd say Senior Year is better. Maybe the final 30-minutes could have been trimmed down (long do I miss the days of 90-minute comedies) but it's still a very entertaining, funny film that is wholesome from start to end. That can't be a bad thing.
Senior Year stars Rebel Wilson, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Mary Holland, Angourie Rice, Justin Hartley, Chris Parnell, Michael Cimino, and Brandon Scott Jones. It's available to stream on Netflix now.