This is an example of a film with a great premise and a hilarious lead actress that just doesn't get off the ground. That isn't to say that Senior Year doesn't have some very funny moments and lines -- it does, but the package as a whole feels flimsy and potentially rushed.
When Stephanie wakes up after 20 years in a coma, she should require more than a day to get accustomed to her new reality and jump back into high school. Obviously, the script needs to get her there quickly, but overstepping any actual adjustments is disconcerting and, as with the rest of the movie, prioritizes scenarios over actual character development and story.
Perhaps appropriately for the setting, Wilson and her schoolmates all seem to fit stereotypes rather than having actual personalities of their own. Still, Wilson is the perfect actress for a woman in a 37-year-old's body but who is "mentally still 17." She plays clueless perfectly (and Rice is excellent as her younger self).
Speaking of Clueless, Alicia Silverstone has a meta cameo here as a character who lived Stephanie's dream and learned from it that popularity in high school doesn't necessarily bring happiness. The film comments on the "intense but delicate ecosystem" of high school and pokes fun at both contemporary and 90s-era teens.
The contrast between the two that Wilson's character allows for is where Senior Year lands its best jokes -- like when she pulls out a chunky calculator to try to fit in with all the kids on their smartphones, or her confusion over the political correctness of today's students (particularly Ari's "authentic, socially-conscious, body-positive, environmentally-aware and economically-compassionate brand").
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Netflix.