When Rebel Wilson first revealed her weight loss, she also revealed her motivations. One of them was that she thought her weight was preventing her from getting serious roles. I’m not saying that I don’t believe this was true but it did surprise me that she then went on to make Senior Year. I mean she was playing another version of the same character she always plays but this time with a different body shape. If she seriously wanted more dramatic roles, how is this film going to help her image as an actor? Nobody was likely to see this and think “yes, that’s the person I want in my Oscar-bait drama film”. Of course, it doesn’t matter but I found it interesting. Whatever the reason, Wilson looks great now and I think she looked great before.
Unlike Senior Year, which looked terrible. It just seemed like the kind of film that should have been released years ago but straight to DVD. I guess that’s what Netflix does now. Those films that would have gone straight to the reduced bin are now streamed on the platform for easy viewing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a terrible film on a weekend. It’s just that there are films that are so bad they’re good and then films that are just bad. I definitely suspected that this would be the latter when it needed to be the former.
Senior Year is like a new addition to the genre of films that includes body-swapping and time travelling into your younger body. It’s Never Been Kissed with a twist. Rebel Wilson plays the nearly 40-year-old Steph. She’s the one-time head cheerleader who has been in a coma for 20 years. Having missed her prom and therefore missing out on being crowned Prom Queen, Steph sets her sights on going back to school and getting the title this time. The only problem is, the world has moved on a lot since for everyone but Steph. Considering her internal clock is still set to 2002 time, how will Steph cope in a world of iPhones, social media and political correctness?
The main problem with this film, as I see it, is that it relies too heavily on nostalgia. There is so little depth to the story because it is too preoccupied with making early 00s references. It’s difficult to really care about Steph’s journey because the film itself doesn’t care. Wilson tries really hard to make this a fun film but it’s just not enough. Perhaps what we’re slowly learning is that she works much better as a supporting character rather than the lead? I get that she leans towards physical comedy but it’s so much here. I guess it’s a complicated role here. She’s playing a 37-year-old with the mind of a 17-year-old. For the most part, she just relies on tired exaggerations.
It’s not just Wilson’s fault though. The script and the story are just dull. She’s not really given a lot to work with. There’s never that moment when Steph tries to get to grips with her new body and situation. Senior Year is a sad thing to watch. It lacks charm that is essential to make this kind of film work. It doesn’t help that the emotional crux of the film comes so late on. This makes it so superficial. This film is just a mess. It can’t decide on the overall tone and comedy flits between very risque and too tame. The rivalry between Steph and her former cheerleading nemesis lacks bite. There’s just no drama between the two.
Then there are the moments that are included just because. There’s an extended sequence where Wilson and her schoolmates recreate the You Drive Me Crazy music video. It serves no purpose and adds nothing to the film. It’s absurd. It’s the Big Bang Theory approach of including pop culture references so the audience can recognise things. If simply seeing something you know makes you feel good then you’ll love this film. If you want a bit more substance then you’ll find this wanting.