Review by David Baldwin
Stephanie Conway (Rebel Wilson) has just woken up from a 20-year coma. Prior to that, she was one of the most popular girls in high school and the captain of the cheerleading squad. Now, she is a 37-year-old woman who is desperate to finish her senior year and become the prom queen she felt she was always destined to become. Of course, things are not the same in 2022 as they were in 2002, and it will not be easy for Stephanie to just reclaim her throne as the most popular girl in school.
Hijinx ensue of course, with rivalries, potential suitors, “woke” teenagers and activists, elaborately sexual dance routines, underage drinking, Deep Impact, Steve Aoki, and the senior prom all factoring into the story powering Senior Year. If that sounds like a bit too much going on, well, it is. If it sounds like it has a “been there, seen that, done it, threw out the t-shirt” kind of vibe, then you are very much on the right track. If it sounds like the funniest film ever made, then we may need to reconsider what you think is funny.
Why do I say that? Well, because Senior Year is a complete mess from beginning to end that is shockingly low on laughs. It certainly tries to be as funny as possible and the cast is filled with gifted comedic performers such as Wilson, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Mary Holland, Chris Parnell, as well as This Is Us’ Justin Hartley. All of them seem game and appear to be enjoying themselves making the film (or at least the credits suggest as much), except too few of the jokes really land and the film falls flat on its face more times than it seems willing to count.
While comedy is traditionally subjective, I would posit the guess that the editors here either did not have enough footage to cull together a film with a consistent tone and through line, or the screener I watched was a bloated workprint that never saw a second or third edit. That is the only sensible way to explain how disjointed and lengthy the film feels, with its nonsensical timeline, hyper extended prologue and dramatic moments that are just kind of…there? They do not really effect the plot much beyond the obvious, and are basically ignored when the next scene begins. There is genuinely way too much going on here and only a vague sense of direction that pushes the film to the finish line.
But hey, the cheerleading routine scenes are pretty cool and well done at least, right? And it does not matter that they stop the film dead in its tracks each time, right?
I could continue droning on about how shockingly bad Senior Year is, but that would waste just as much time as the film itself does. It’s a fun high concept idea with some truly mediocre execution. All of the pieces are there and willing to give us the raunchy fish-out-of-water satire that deserves to be absolutely hysterical. Instead, it just languishes from start to finish. Everyone here deserved so much better.
Senior Year is available to stream on Netflix now.