I’m a firm believer that “teen girl movies” are an essential viewing genre for all demographics.
We all know the hits: ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Legally Blonde’ lead the pack for good reason, though the ‘Bring It On’ series is a personal favourite. Those with sharper cinematic tastes might like “Heathers” and music fans always have “Grease” or “Hairspray.”
These films are at their best when defending feminist messages with a touch of revenge fantasy against any man who gets in the way. Romance is also a key element, as well as comedy.
Any movie that seems designed for a teenage girl’s slumber party falls into the category, but some of my favorite memories include watching them with my dad and now with my friends from college.
However, the genre seems to have reached its peak in the 90s and 2000s and somewhat abandoned since. The best recent example is “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, which has many key elements, but lacks much of the feminist thrust and falls flat on repeated viewing.
“Do Revenge”, a recent film from Netflix, may be here to save the genre.
Starring Camila Mendes from “Riverdale” and Maya Hawke from “Stranger Things,” it carries the star power of pulling in audiences, and it delivers the perfect amount of drama and a rare understanding of Gen Z slang.
Drea (Mendes) had her perfectly crafted reputation destroyed when her popular boyfriend leaked her sex tape. New to school Eleanor (Hawke) has been an outcast ever since she was exposed as queer and exposed as a predator at summer camp.
As they enter senior year, the two form an unlikely bond and decide they are going to, well, get revenge. Eleanor will infiltrate the popular crew, while Drea will befriend the girl who revealed Eleanor, and they will use their insider knowledge to wreak havoc.
As I explained to friends, it’s like a double “Mean Girls”, only more gay.
Much of the plot unfolds as planned, but there are still enough delicious and over-the-top twists to keep it original.
I have to admit that I’ve seen five whole seasons of “Riverdale” and therefore seen a lot of Mendes’ work. It was a treat to see her actually allowed to play the popular bad girl she can only conjure up as Veronica.
Hawke was just as eye-pleasing as a less eccentric character than she plays in “Stranger Things,” and the chemistry between the two leads featured plenty of scenes that might otherwise have been obnoxious.
Both leads have had equal time to have romantic entanglements, though they’ve been far less focused than in many teenage films; Still, it was nice to see Eleanor flirting with another girl.
Someone on the writing staff is either a youngster or is quite active on TikTok, as I was pleasantly surprised to see Gen Z humor and slang that didn’t feel entirely forced.
Calling things ‘cringe’ and ‘problematic’, mixing up words and using therapeutic and militant language in totally inappropriate situations – it all felt too real.
Eleanor’s lizard is named “Oscar Winner Olivia Colman”. I laughed every time he came.
It was also fantastic to see the 90s tropes updated in a modern high school.
The cliques include the “Instagram Witches” who are great at astrology and the theater kids who tried to put together a mostly white “Hamilton” production. One of the main villains achieves social power by posing as “woke” and facetiously calls on his athletes to “be allies.”
Don’t worry, though; there is one more makeover scene.
It all takes place in the sparkiest high school where everyone wears teal and pastel purple uniforms straight out of a fashion magazine. They’re all unrealistically well-dressed, but more cautious than “Euphoria.”
The soundtrack is also perfectly aimed at the public, with artists from Billie Eilish to Rosalìa to Third Eye Blind. It was very TikTok, but only the best parts.
Eleanor delivers a potential movie thesis when she cites her therapist’s idea that “hurting people hurts people” and rebuts with “I just don’t think that applies to teenage girls.” I think sometimes they’re just bad.
That’s what “Mean Girls” is all about, though. “Do Revenge” goes one step further by examining how patriarchy allows teenagers to escape this trap and allows girls to team up again and again.
Ultimately, however, it’s not that deep. There’s drama, a good script, fun music, and beautiful visuals.
Watch it with your best friends (or your dad) and decide which quotes are going to be part of your vocabulary.
The headmistress of the school says, “You’re never as alive as when you were 17. Revel in that feeling, just for a bit.
Luke Taylor has a degree in journalism. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 581-2812.