Senior Year: Rebel Wilson Comedy Has Heart

Rebel Wilson as Stephanie Conway in Senior Year. Photo credit: Boris Martin/NETFLIX © 2022.

A cheerleading captain wakes up after two decades in a coma and decides to go back to high school in order to finish her Senior Year.

If you have not watched Deep Impact, I suggest turning on HBO Max and watching the disaster thriller. If you don’t have HBO Max, please feel free to rent the movie. Otherwise, there will be Deep Impact spoilers during this film. It’s not a major part of the film but pertinent to one hysterical scene in particular. I don’t know why films decide to spoil other films. I can understand a clip or two but not outright spoilers. But anyway, better they spotlight Deep Impact than Armageddon.

Stephanie Conway (Angourie Rice/Rebel Wilson) had one goal to accomplish during her senior year: winning prom queen. Suffice it to say, a cheerleading accident goes wrong and she ends up in a coma. Everything changes during this time, including missing out on the win. So upon waking up and still mentally being 17 years old, she makes the only decision that she can: going back to high school. Best friend Martha (Mary Holland) is now the principal/cheer coach and tells her that she can do her GED online but no, Stephanie insists on in person. And yes, she wants to be one of the popular girls again and win prom queen. Unbeknownst to the former cheer captain, Harding High School is not the same. However, this decision gets another best friend, Seth (Sam Richardson), back in her life.

Missing out on two decades means missing out on changes in technology and finding out you can know longer use certain words. The film takes advantage of this and Stephanie gets a quick learning lesson. It’s not too long before she becomes an Instagram addict and starts doing live videos and gaining followers. Much like the rivalry with Tiffany (Ana Yi Puig/Zoë Chao) growing up, she develops a rivalry with Bri (Jade Bender).

I’m always here for any projects that star Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, or Mary Holland in any capacity. Neither performer disappointed in this aspect. They play the older characters of people that Stephanie knew growing up. I will credit the casting director for casting pitch-perfect performers for their younger characters (Zaire Adams, Ana Yi Puig, Molly Brown). The same goes for the casting of Spider-Man‘s Angourie Rice. Rice is a perfect double for a younger Rebel Wilson, accents, mannerisms, and all.

Listen, this could have been one of those comedies that could have become stupid because of the premise. Instead, there are no shortage of heartfelt scenes. I will not get into the particulars but let’s just say that they teach Stephanie something about the people that we should value the most in life. You do not need to be one of the popular kids–that’s a lesson that I probably needed while growing up. I was teased a lot while growing up. That’s something I can resonate with Stephanie, pre-transformation following the move from Australia to New York. Honestly, I was surprised by how emotional I got while watching Senior Year and that’s not just because I’m on Team Deep Impact.

If there’s something to take away from Senior Year, it’s that our real friends will care about us and we don’t need to be “fake” in order to fit in with the crowd.

DIRECTOR: Alex Hardcastle
SCREENWRITERS: Andrew Knauer & Arthur Pielli and Brandon Scott Jones
CAST: Rebel Wilson, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Mary Holland, Justin Hartley, Chris Parnell, Angourie Rice, Michael Cimino, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Brandon Scott Jones, and Alicia Silverstone

Netflix launches Senior Year on May 13, 2022. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.