Netflix review: Rebel Wilson returns to high school in nostalgic 'Senior Year'

Fred Hawson

Posted at May 17 2022 06:37 AM

Rebel Wilson in 'Senior Year.' Handout
Rebel Wilson in 'Senior Year.' Handout

It was 2002, during her senior year in high school, Australian immigrant Stephanie Conway (Angourie Rice) was very intent on becoming the prom queen. She was the captain of the cheerleading squad, and her boyfriend was school jock Blaine (Tyler Barnhardt). This was much to the dismay of Tiffany (Ana Yi Puig) whom Stephanie beat to earn both prize distinctions. Unfortunately, her plans did not come to pass because of an accident which left Stephanie in a coma. 

In 2022, Stephanie (Rebel Wilson) suddenly woke up from her coma, now at age 37. However, her mental status was still stuck at age 17. Her close friend Martha (Mary Holland) is now the principal of their high school, while Seth (Sam Richardson), who had a crush on her before, is now the school librarian. Stephanie resolved that she would complete her senior year, and finally claim that crown of prom queen she knew she deserved.

The jokes in this film were quite familiar, as they seemed to have been done before in one version or the other in various high school comedy films in the past, from "Bring It On" (2000) to "Mean Girls" (2004), and yes, "Clueless" (1995). Even Rebel Wilson's style of comedy was quite similar to the three "Pitch Perfect" films (2012-17), which nevertheless was the same dorky, immature, sassy persona that endeared her to her fans all these years. 

However, the nostalgia element of the late 1990s and early aughts, especially in the musical soundtrack, was irresistible. One of the highlights was a recreation of the Britney Spears music video for her hit song “(You Drive Me) Crazy.” You see all the '90s era posters on the wall in Stephanie's room and they will all bring back happy memories. There was even a surprise cameo from one iconic '90s star whose poster was also on Stephanie's wall.

This was a generally fun juvenile romp, with several digs to the current woke culture and the toxicity within social media. The performance of Chris Parnell as Stephanie's dear father Jim Conway was particularly affecting. 

It just disturbed me how the cause of Stephanie's accident were never even addressed again during the rest of the film and everything was just neatly swept under the rug. Stephanie did not really get justice for the 20 years she lost. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."