A final post in my final year. It’s been a great ride, but let’s not throw a pity party, just a teenage party.
The teen romance comedy genre of film is as overdone and mass produced as a “Phantom of the Opera” show, no offense to any theater lovers. A genre of such reputation brings about a slew of poorly made films, most of which suffer from unrealistic plots and portrayals as well as originality. However, within the past few years the genre has seen glimmers of hope with the likes of “Booksmart,” “The Spectacular Now,” “Easy A,” “The Edge of Seventeen” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.”
That’s why I was very excited to check out Hulu’s most recent teenage queer rom-com feature “Crush.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t left in good hands.
Directed by Sammi Cohen and co-written by Kirsten King and Casey Rackham, the latter of who is a BU COM alum, “Crush” tells the story of Paige, played by Rowan Blanchard, an artistically inclined gay student who dreams of getting into CalArts. She reluctantly joins the track team to try and get close to her childhood crush Gabriella, played by Isabella Ferreira. But as the two spend time together, Gabriella’s twin sister, AJ, played by Auli’i Cravalho, begins to steal Paige’s attention.
Upfront, “Crush” offers a relatively meta and basic take on the teen rom-com, drawing inspiration from its predecessors but also attempting to find its own path. The part where Paige signs up for the track team is meant to be its “original” purpose — a purpose to help the film not fall into the cliché bait of boy/girl meets boy/girl.
However, this can only do so much for a film that is heavily character-driven. A story about finding one’s true passion but also breaking out of someone’s comfort zone finds little support on the red clay track, as well as from its protagonists.
Characters are written with a sense of charisma and charm to sense, that of which helps the viewer become drawn into the world of these teenagers, but doesn’t help push any sort of refined take on their problems and what they are dealing with. The film takes a generally safe route, when it comes to depicting horny teenagers who party what seems like every other day, instead of trying to opt for a more heightened and worldly view of what it meas to be queer in modern American high schools.
That said, Blanchard offers a relatively unique aura to her character, where we are able to step into her life and see just exactly what she deals with on a daily basis. But, the humor lacks in many attempts to help compensate for the romantic drive of the film, that of which is at the forefront.
At the end of it all, there is something missing, something that didn’t push or challenge Paige and her two love interests, where instead they just float about, talk and then express feelings. It’s formulaic almost, to an exact tee, where the absence of conflict brings about the mundane and typical procession of teenage romance.
Of course, the writers may have wanted to take a leap of faith, but it is perhaps an idea that was not ever entertained when it came to “Crush.” Risk embodies the teenage impulsivity, the mistakes that are made and the consequences that help those learn from it. With a lack of risk, a reality becomes less convincing.
Overall, a charming but otherwise unconvincing take on the teenage romance comedy, “Crush” fails to take that needed extra step.
But to end off my last article, I’ll leave you with one final quote from a movie everyone knows: “Don’t you forget about me,” — Simple Minds, as seen in “The Breakfast Club” (1985).