Senior Year is a Netflix movie starring Rebel Wilson who also produced this movie. Released in 2022, it is about a high school cheerleader – no, wait, cheer captain – who went into a 20-year coma after a cheerleading accident. A 17-year-old stuck in a 37-year-old’s body, she wants to go back to high school to reclaim her status as the most popular girl in school and to win prom queen.
Senior Year is currently streaming on Netflix.
To watch or not to watch? (Non-spoiler Review Section)
Before you read my review, I should probably set some expectations first. I am not a fan of Rebel Wilson. I have watched a few movies which she was in, and I was not impressed by her in any shape or form. I don’t find her funny at all; she is too try-hard in so many ways. I did not like her in Pitch Perfect, and I even demeaned myself to watch Isn’t It Romantic, and she rubbed me the wrong way in all movies I have seen her in.
In Senior Year, she wants to be the hot, popular girl, but to be brutally honest, she does not have the “it” factor. She does not have what it takes to be the popular high school girl. She does not have the hot girl charisma that Rachel McAdams portrays so well, she does not have the cool girl factor that Blake Lively pulls off, and she does not have the likeability attraction of Emma Stone. In fact, even the actress who plays the younger version of the main character, Angourie Rice, is a smidge hotter than her. Rebel Wilson did lose a lot of weight since Pitch Perfect, but somehow it has made her look a lot more haggard. But looks are not the determinant of popularity. What I have against Rebel Wilson is that she does not have the charisma or the personality to pull off being Miss Popular.
Let’s focus now on Senior Year. Overall, I found it most of the movie rather cringey. You would too, if you were watching a nearly-40-year-old trying to fit in with people less than half her age. To be fair, the premise of the movie was that she had been in a coma for 20 years, so naturally her mind was still stuck at being 17 years old, even though her body was significantly older. It is probably supposed to be funny, but the jokes are just awkward.
The ending should come as no surprise that everything works out in her favour, because Senior Year was designed to be the feel-good teen movie of the year, although it does not feature a teen.
I did not actually want to watch the movie. It kept popping up on the main page every time I logged into Netflix. And initially I wanted to skip it, but in the end I gave in, if only to stop Netflix from recommending it to me. I decided to let it play on my TV while I was doing some work on my laptop.
Am I the only one who feels this way? Let’s refer to the gold standard of movie review websites: Rotten Tomatoes. At time of writing, Senior Year scored a dismal 25%.
My advice is to watch this movie only if you just want to be aware of what this movie is about. So far, it isn’t really on anyone’s radar and it is not highly talked about (remember Bird Box? THAT was a movie that you MUST watch if you want to know what everyone keeps referring to), so even if you skip this movie, it would make no difference to your life.
If you do plan to watch the movie, stop reading here so you don’t get spoilers. If you have no intention to watch it but want to just know what’s happening, read on to the next section!
My Honest Review ***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
Senior Year focuses on an Australian import to USA, a blonde girl named Stephanie Conway who lost her mother (from cancer) at a young age, and is an only child raised by her father. After being dissed by a pretty, popular senior while celebrating her birthday at a bowling alley, Stephanie realises that the path to getting all her dreams to come true was to become popular. She gives herself a makeover following advice from teen magazines, transforming herself into the popular girl. Her role model was that of alumna Deanna Russo, who was prom queen, married her high school jock boyfriend, and lives in a large, expensive mansion. Stephanie would drive by Deanna’s house and sigh wistfully as she watches Deanna and her “perfect life”.
So at 17, she seems to be on track. She was the cheer captain, she had a hot boyfriend, and she was doing everything that was right to achieve her perfect life.
But every popular girl must have a nemesis, and in this case, it is a fellow cheerleader, Tiffany, who had been in competition for captaincy, and was the ex-girlfriend of the hot boyfriend.
Don’t underestimate Tiffany though, because she has her own followers. In fact, if you watch the movie, it seems like she has more loyal followers than Stephanie. But as an audience, we must take Stephanie’s side, and in order for this to happen, Tiffany has to be painted in an evil light. So we see that Tiffany is the reason behind Stephanie’s coma – she told two of the cheerleaders to sabotage Stephanie’s landing during a cheer routine. And we see this clearly happening, when Stephanie was being tossed in the air, and the two girls pushed the two guys who were supposed to catch her away, causing Stephanie to crash onto the floor and into a coma.
By the way, this crime was never addressed. In the real world, who would get away with such evil intentions to cause serious bodily harm? Plus, true cheerleaders would never allow such things to happen. No matter how much you dislike someone, you would never, ever allow a flyer to crash into the ground, because it can lead to permanent disability or even death. Unless they were psychopaths, who would be comfortable with that kind of crime on their conscience? Personally, I think that the cause for Stephanie’s coma should have been written differently.
But well, this is a movie, and things aren’t supposed to make sense anyway in movie world, so we are forced to look past this, and just accept it as a necessary setup for Stephanie’s coma.
After 20 years, Stephanie suddenly wakes up, now in the body of a busty 37-year-old, but with her brain still stuck at 17. It would come as a shock to anyone, but surprisingly, Stephanie does not need therapy, whether mental or physical (I mean, the body hasn’t been used for 20 years, wouldn’t some of the muscles have atrophied?). Instead, this gives Rebel Wilson a chance to relive her childhood by behaving like a childish teenager: giggling at inappropriate jokes as well as struggling to learn the new norms of the 21st century, such as politically correct terms to use (you can’t use “gay” as an insult), how phones are now used for everything, and the concept of social media.
Stephanie finds that the house where her idol Deanna used to live is now inhabited by her arch nemesis Tiffany, who has married her (Stephanie’s) boyfriend, Blaine. Her dream life derailed, Stephanie does not know how to move forward; and then comes to the realization that the only way she can take control again is by picking up where she left off – she has to go back to high school and win prom queen.
Conveniently, her best friend Martha is now the principal of the same high school that they attended, so she convinces her father and Martha to allow her to enrol in high school. Stephanie tries desperately to fit in, and all the students are very nice about it, because this is the 21st century where everyone is inclusive. Stephanie meets Tiffany’s daughter, Bri, who is the most popular girl in school, and has a massive Instagram following.
To Stephanie’s shock and horror, cheerleading at Harding High is no longer what it used to be – there are no stunts, no dance routines, no proper cheer captain (everyone is a cheer captain, including Martha the principal). The cheerleaders are among the lowest class of the school, i.e. not popular at all; they wear boring jerseys with shapeless pants, and they recite sentences that sound like they came off the motivational memes that your MLM friend would send you every morning.
Stephanie also found out that prom royalty has been obliterated, as the school was desperately trying to make everyone winners with no losers.
Determined to force her perfect life to be on track again, Stephanie joins the cheerleading team and manages to make them perform a sexy cheerleading routine at a school pep rally without Martha’s permission; and that routine helped her rapidly grow her own social media following.
Stephanie also tries to bring back prom king and queen, which could only be done if she could get enough people to sign a petition. The only way anyone would sign anything, she was told, was to get the popular girl Bri to sign it. Bri did not want to as she was against the idea, but her mother Tiffany forced her to get it reinstated.
Finally, we come to prom night. Stephanie needs a date, but of course, we can’t have her being escorted by a young high school kid (that would be just creepy). Her date comes in the form of Seth, who was one of her best friends when they were 17, who was now conveniently working as the school librarian, and is also an adult chaperone for the prom.
Note: I am not trying to body shame anyone, but seriously, if you compare the 37-year-old to the 17-year-old, you can see the bodies are significantly different in shape and size. How does the 37 year old wear clothes that were designed for the 17 year old??? I can’t even wear the dress I bought last year!!!
Seth has always been in love with Stephanie, but she has always thrown him over in favour of her then hot boyfriend, Blaine. And on prom night, Seth catches Blaine about to kiss Stephanie, and he walks away furious, but he does not realise that Blaine (who is married to Tiffany) was trying to force himself on Stephanie.
Tiffany, on the other hand, is painted in a truly evil light so that we can dislike her and side with Stephanie. This can be seen on prom night with her schemes to defeat Stephanie, including rigging the prom queen votes (there were more than 300 votes for Bri even though there was only 100+ students in attendance). Bri’s boyfriend wins prom king; but when it comes to prom queen, there is an unexpected announcement that Bri has withdrawn from the competition, allowing Stephanie to win.
Bri is so against her mother now that in addition to spoiling her mother’s prom queen plans, she tells everyone to go for Stephanie’s afterparty instead of the one her mother had organised. So everyone goes over to Stephanie’s party which she was holding at Martha’s lakehouse without her permission. (She got the key from Martha 20 years ago, before her coma, when she had planned an afterparty. She never returned the key and somehow the key still works.)
Tiffany calls the cops on Stephanie’s afterparty, and as the kids flee the house, Martha comes up to the house furious with Stephanie, at her irresponsibility and selfishness.
Stephanie sadly takes a Lyft home alone (that’s their version of our Grab Ride) and to her shock, found that her driver is none other than… her idol and role model, Deanna Russo! (dum dum dum) Of course, serendipity is a must in movie world, because how else can all scenes makes sense and fit in the running time. Deanna shares that her life is far from perfect; her husband left her for a younger woman, she has no college degree so she could not find a high-paying job, and is now driving Lyft among several part-time jobs in order to pay for community college. Becoming prom queen did not magically fix any problems or set her life on a perfect path.
A little bit of an Easter Egg: a Clueless poster adorns Stephanie’s wall when she was a teenager – and Alicia Silverstone who was the lead in Clueless plays Deanna Russo in this movie.
We are now coming to the end of the movie. Of course there must be some form of reconciliation between the lead and her rival; and in this case, this was forced by Bri, who upon coming home from the illegal party, is furious with her mother for calling the cops and for not even checking with her to see if she was alright. She also points out that both her parents are miserable, and makes her mother apologise to Stephanie (she won’t unblock her mother on Instagram otherwise).
Finally, we see the high school graduation ceremony, where everyone is happy and dancing and Stephanie finally manages to complete the ill-fated basket toss properly and safely this time.
Oh, and of course, Stephanie ends up with Seth.
There are loads of cheesy post-movie scenes which, if you enjoyed the movie, you would also enjoy. If, however, you did not enjoy the movie, you would find them cringey.
Definitely NOT a movie I would recommend.