Another week, another film that’s just whatever we feel like. This week brings us to perhaps the only place as scary as our current political climate: high school.
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
In a case of mistaken identity, band nerd Sierra begins a relationship via text with with popular yet sensitive quarterback Jamey.
In the high school pecking order, Sierra Burgess is…well, nowhere near the top of the pyramid. A legacy student at her exclusive high school, Sierra is smart and ambitious, but her insecurities are holding her back. With a mother who is gorgeous and successful, and a father who is a writer of some renown, Sierra lives in the shadow of her parents.
Though Sierra is a talented writer and student of literature, she feels perpetually insufficient. And, despite her good grades and involvement with the marching band, Sierra doesn’t stand out enough to make it to her dream school, Stanford.
After resident mean girl Veronica gives new quarterback Jamey Sierra’s number, chaos ensues. Jamey, believing he has Veronica’s number, strikes up a conversation via text. Sierra, realizing Jamey has texted her mistakenly, decides to have fun with this and keep up the ruse.
Sierra’s impulsive decision becomes a lot more sustainable after Veronica’s college boyfriend breaks up with her. When Sierra comforts her, she has a proposition: Sierra will tutor Veronica to help her impress her ex, while Veronica will help Sierra keep up the charade.
As Sierra tutors Veronica, she realizes a difficult home life has made studying nearly impossible so far. Veronica’s mother constantly body shames her and reminds her to be pretty for the boys. Meanwhile, Veronica’s sisters, child beauty pageant contestants, are free to run wild and screaming around the house. Sierra does manage to impart some sage advice anyway, such as that Nietzsche is comparable to a sexy German vampire.
In exchange, Veronica provides selfies, Face Time sessions, and even a date IRL. The whole premise becomes implausible so quickly, especially when Sierra switches places with Veronica and smooches Jamey without him noticing. Seriously, dude, this is how people die in horror movies.
However unlikely it may be, the plan is more or less working out. Though Sierra repeatedly tells herself she will tell Jamey the truth, she continues to delay the inevitable. The truth does out in an especially ugly way after Sierra witnesses a kiss between Jamey and Veronica. As Sierra and Veronica have become good friends, Sierra feels utterly betrayed and lashes out in a very public arena.
Can Sierra make things right with Veronica and Jamey? Can she beat the odds and get into Stanford? Will she be able to embrace her gift with words? Spoiler: this isn’t exactly the kind of a film with a shocking twist ending.
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
I got really hung up (no pun intended) on Veronica’s ability to recall Sierra’s phone number from memory just to fuck with her. Do you know anyone’s phone number at this point, let alone the phone number of someone you disdain utterly?
Also Jamey is straight up boring. Sierra and Veronica’s relationship is way more compelling. Even though I am in favor of strong female friendships that have no romantic undertones whatsoever, I am also strongly in favor of non-heteronormative relationships, and Sierra/Veronica have way more chemistry than Sierra/Jamey. If the so-called gay agenda is to steal romantic films for their own stories, they have succeeded. Hetero love is boring.
Perhaps the larger problem is how fucking creepy Sierra’s actions are. In the age of internet dating where people (looking at you, men) deliberately mislead others and perpetrate acts of violence, Sierra’s choices feel especially problematic. At a certain point, Sierra goes from sweet and awkward to manipulative and sketchy AF. And even though the message is to some degree about not judging others based on their appearance, Jamey’s looks are initially the only thing Sierra knows about him.
In conclusion, I’m way too cynical for this shit.
3 thoughts on “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, or: Stranger Teens”
I saw this movie for obvious reasons (my last name) and it was a good one. Teen angst in the 21st century with some shades of the past.
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Yes, I did love the nods to ’80s teen flicks in this one!