Ah, spring. Sunshine, bright colors, the world coming back alive…for vengeance? Spring has felt like such a long time coming that it’s impossible not to highlight the season in April’s theme. Can we help it if our interpretation of the month veers into darkness immediately? Think of it this way: revenge schemes are all about getting organized & crossing things off the to-do list…just like spring cleaning…?
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
When faced with a dramatic loss of social status, teens attending an expensive private school swap revenge schemes to pay back those who have wronged them.
On the night of a party thrown in her honor, queen bee Drea is flying high. Following her crowning achievement as Teen Vogue’s “Teen of the Year,” her bff Tara has planned an elaborate party with Drea’s face featured on absolutely everything. Sure, there’s the occasional snide remark about Drea’s scholarship status at Rosehill, the fancy private school she attends, but she’s more than capable of outmaneuvering the haters.
But like any teen social scene, change is the only constant. After filming a sexy video for her boyfriend Max, Drea’s fortunes fall when it’s leaked. Despite his protestations that his phone was hacked, Drea is convinced Max intentionally shared the video, punching him in the face on school grounds. When all of this alienates her friends, puts her scholarship at risk, and sets back her dreams of Yale, Drea is determined to do one thing only: revenge.
Over the summer, Drea’s path collides fatefully with Eleanor, a wealthy but awkward & tomboyish girl at the tennis camp where Drea is working. When Eleanor tips off Drea that mean girl Erica is sharing the sex tape with everyone at tennis camp, Drea escalates things by planting drugs in her room. Eleanor eventually earns Drea’s trust by revealing that she’s transferring to Rosehill; her life has been miserable in her current school since her first girlfriend claimed that Eleanor tried to kiss her without consent. Does her ex, Carissa, happen to attend Rosehill? Why, yes–yes, she does.
When senior year begins, Max seems to be doing everything possible to infuriate Drea, from dating her former bestie Tara to founding an extremely performative cis male group of feminists. Putting the pieces together, Drea realizes she and Eleanor have a perfect opportunity to do each other’s revenge while skating under the radar.
The plan is simple: Drea, who is forced to do community service, will volunteer for the school’s garden. Carissa is, noted hippie and lead gardener, should be an easy target as she seems to be growing something mysterious in a greenhouse only she can access. Meanwhile, Eleanor will undergo a makeover and give off distant, alluring vibes to attract Max’s interest.
Unsurprisingly, things fail to go according to plan. Drea finds herself attracted to Carissa’s friend Russ, while Eleanor is interested in Max’s sister. With divided loyalties and hidden agendas, can a friendship born of so much scheming survive…and will vengeance be done?
4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
While the twists aren’t exactly shocking–particularly if you’ve seen even a handful of ’90s and ’00s teen comedies–and things are wrapped up a bit too neatly in the end, this is still a delightful film to watch. The dynamic between our leads is phenomenal even if their friendship is a little (a lot) on the twisted side. Honestly, the message is exactly what I would’ve dug as a teen: what is friendship if not finding someone as disturbed and poorly socialized as you are?
Visually, this is gorgeous; it’s got that glossy, deceptively perfect sheen of many a teen comedy, which belies the ugly social climbing & backstabbing at the heart of a cinematic high school. The social commentary is genuinely funny, in particular some of Max’s seemingly sincere antics. I appreciated the many films that this one pays tribute to–most notably, the forever in my heart 10 Things I Hate About You.
Last time I left Riverdale, Camila Mendes was being criminally underused and I’m going to assume still happening. And as likeable as Maya Hawke is in Stranger Things, I only want to see her in roles with a dark edge from now on.
Any and all teen comedies like this one, please.