Movie reviews: “Senior Year” and more


SENIOR YEAR: 2 ½ STARS

This image released by Netflix shows, in the foreground from left, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Rebel Wilson, Avantika and Joshua Colley in a scene from “Senior Year”. (Boris Martin/Netflix via AP)

A high school coma comedy with a fish out of water twist, “Senior Year,” a new Netflix movie starring Rebel Wilson, plays like a cross between “While You Were Sleeping” and “Billy Madison.”

Stephanie Conway (Angourie Rice as a teenager, Wilson as an adult) was on her way to having the perfect life. As a high school star, she was a cheerleader, fashion club president, and candidate for prom queen until a head injury, caused by falling from the top of a cheerleader pyramid. -pom girls, put her in a coma for 20 years.

Waking up at 37 feels like time hasn’t passed. As far as she knows, it’s 2002, words like “shiznit” and “diggity bomb” are still in vogue and she still wants to be prom queen, the pinnacle of high school achievement. “It’s more than just a crown for me,” she says.

But she is a relic. Social media is a novelty, political correctness is like science fiction, cheerleaders are now doing routines about the climate crisis and gun control, and her former classmates are now the parents of high school students.

To embark on his new life, it’s time to follow an adult education… in high school. “I can’t move on to the next chapter of my life if I’m still stuck in the old one for 20 years,” she says.

Just a month away from graduating, she enrolls, trying to pick up where she left off. But she realizes that times have changed. “I had more fun in the coma,” she sighs.

“Senior Year” is a comedy with a dispersal approach.

The coming-of-age story is meant to be a poignant look at Stephanie as she matures and comes to realize that there’s more to life than cheerleading and being the queen of the ball. The power of friendships and loyalty is examined: “It doesn’t matter who has the most friends, likes or followers,” says Stephanie. “If you only have one or two great friends, they will support you. Then you have It’s worth fighting for.

That doesn’t sound so funny, does it?

It is because it is not. At least not to the end. “Senior Year” takes a joke premise and treats it for humor in the first two acts. Amusing, situational lines are sprinkled throughout the first hour or so. “You’ve survived 20 years without solid food,” says Stephanie’s father (Chris Parnell). “You can spend a weekend without your phone.” But the jokes dry up as the movies go by.

It’s also laughable about the clash of cultures between 2002 and 2022. Stephanie has a lot to learn about political correctness and world events, but to her credit, the movie doesn’t treat teenagers like woke zombies spouting slogans, but like decent children who care about their friends and the future.

It seems like a lot, because it is a lot. Wilson does what she can to get things done, but when the feel-good message kicks in, she’s saddled with down-to-earth, book-to-book truisms that annihilate all the fun that had been established in the first part of the film. .

Talented comedic actors like Mary Holland and Zoe Chao bring both humor and heart to their roles, but “Senior Year” still feels messy. For too long, he oscillates between sincere and stupid as if shifting gears in a high-speed Formula 1 race but, sadly, never finds his rhythm.

THE LAST VICTIM: 3 STARS

“The Last Victim” (courtesy sticker)

“The Last Victim,” starring Ron Perlman as a sheriff on the hunt for ruthless killers, now streaming on VOD, is a throwback to gritty neo-westerns like “Hell or High Water” and “No Country for Old Man.” .

Beginning with a calculated but brutal massacre in a small town in the American Southwest

diner, “The Last Victim” follows Jake (Ralph Ineson), the vicious ringleader of the restaurant massacre, as he attempts to dispose of dilapidated bodies in the Yaj Oolal Overlook nature reserve apparently closed for the season.

Jake’s plan is interrupted by Susan (Ali Larter), an anthropologist with OCD, and her husband, Richard (Tahmoh Penikett), who stumble upon the place while driving across the country. The killer makes short work of Richard, shooting him on sight. Susan has better luck, disappearing into the woods. “Go see if she was stupid enough to run away,” Jake tells his henchmen as their deadly game of cat and mouse begins.

As Sheriff Hickey (Perlman) and Deputy Mindy Gaboon (Camille Legg) begin their investigation into the restaurant murders, Susan must stay one step ahead of Jake to avoid becoming the latest victim.

In his directorial debut, Naveen A. Chathapuram made a stylized and tense survival story. The film has an aura of dread, which builds as the story unfolds until the inevitable climatic confrontation.

Chathapuram is aided by a menacing performance from Ineson who oozes evil, Perlman, whose presence evokes a certain special kind of gravity, and Larter’s authoritative work. They make up for some of the film’s shortcomings, like such a serious voiceover, a bit too leisurely pacing in the film’s mid-section, and a stuck-together ending sequence that adds little but a few minutes to the whole thing. walking time.

“The Last Victim” is a very strong debut film that puts excitement into the storytelling, including a rather surreal climax, with enough twists and turns to keep the survival story gripping throughout.

FIRE LIGHTER: 2 STARS

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Ryan Kiera Armstrong in a scene from “Firestarter.” (Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures via AP)

It’s unclear if a remake of Stephen King’s searing 1984 film “Firestarter” is a burning concern for audiences, but here we are with a new twist on an old story, in theaters now, about a young girl with pyrokinesis. .

Every parent thinks their child is special, but Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) really know their daughter has a gift. “You’re going to change the world,” he told her.

Years ago, Andy and Vicky were injected with an experimental serum and a side effect left them with telepathic abilities, which they passed on to the daughter, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), as well as the talent to conjure up. heat and fire when angry or angry. in pain.

For a decade, they’ve been on the run from a secret government agency that wants to kidnap Charlie and study his superhuman power. So far, they’ve trained the preteen to control her fiery ability, but as she grows, it becomes harder and harder to handle. “I don’t want to hurt anyone,” Charlie said. “But it feels good.”

When the family’s location is accidentally revealed, a mysterious government agent (Michael Greyeyes) is sent to bring her in as Andy and Charlie seek refuge.

The big question about “Firestarter 2.0” is whether or not it improves on the 1984 original. of success – on similar ground. Looking back now, the original “Firestarter” isn’t a great movie, but it does have George C. Scott in menacing mode and a cool Tangerine Dream soundtrack amid flames and fire.

Does the new movie bring the heat?

In another cinematic multiverse (which is o-so-hip right now), Charlie could have been a member of the X-Men Jr. or a teenaged Fantastic Four. So it makes sense, especially in today’s happy superhero market, that the new film leans into sci-fi and the allegorical aspects of the story rather than horror. It’s just a shame it doesn’t do much with either approach. Charlie spits fire and things burn but, cinematically, nothing really catches fire.

Gone is the paranoid feel of government interference, replaced by long boring exposition periods and the underutilized villain of Greyeyes. Set to an interesting score by legendary director John Carpenter (along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies), who was supposed to direct the original film, the new version gets the soundtrack right, but almost everything else feels like a flashback rather than a “fire starter.”

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