Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Outcasts: Movie Review

The movie about unpopular high school kids on a power trip that we don't need.

The Outcasts is an indie version of a studio movie. It feels like a movie that cares more deeply about following a formula that will guarantee everyone will want to watch as opposed to just crafting a movie that everyone will actually want to watch. The norm these days is filling high school movies with overly-witty teenagers, but this high school is filled with overly-smart and philosophical teenagers who sound like they just memorized a sociology textbook. I hate that unnatural wit in teen movies, but I’m not convinced this is any better.   2017

Directed by: Peter Hutchings

Screenplay by: Dominique Ferrari, Suzanne Wrubel

Starring: Eden Sher, Victoria Justice

Eden Sher stars as, well, her name is Mindy, but she’s Sue Heck from The Middle. And I mean exactly like Sue. She’s really smart, really awkward, really determined and overly cheerful about her nerdy plans. Exchange Sue’s parents with one friend named Jodi (Victoria Justice), and you’ve got one long episode of The Middle without any of the family drama to calm down the film or momentarily distract it.

Mindy and Jodi are not cool, but they do just like being themselves. Now in their senior year of high school, they are fed up with being bullied by the popular kids. They attempt a truce and then move on to overthrowing the social hierarchy of the school – their insane knowledge of sociology in historical contexts comes in handy. Mindy and her band of “outcasts” also loves off-beat pop-culture references. After a sentence from Karl Marx they’ll throw in references to Firefly, Dr. Who, and a whole analogy relating Star Wars to the dynamics of high school friendships.

The frustrating aspect of this movie is that it just gets worse. I kind of liked it at the beginning. I have no problems with people like Sue and Jodi getting what they want – they’ve worked hard and they are smart. Maybe they did just memorize a sociology textbook (but probably not). They band together fellow outcasts and a few of them weren’t just there as jokes. Katie Chang as Claire was a sweet and genuinely thoughtful girl, but that meant she didn’t get much screen time. Jazmyn Richardson had one good line, “I’m not angry because I’m black, I’m angry because I pay attention.” Ashley Rickards as Virginia was a brilliantly crafted character she was hilarious, and independent, and also smart and conniving. She most likely did just memorize a sociology textbook, and the most likely to help connect the audience.

Rickards’ Virginia had one of the better smart moments of the film when she compared Mindy to Napoleon and Mindy didn’t get it. That was near the beginning. After that the overthrowing of the popular girls happened really quickly and the rest is about how power corrupts. Apparently, we needed a movie that spent a full hour on the power trips of high school kids, who at this point weren’t even likable, and most of whom weren’t even smart anymore.
Mindy being too stupid to figure out how to ace her university interview, after being told how to ace it, and apparently being a whiz at sociological hierarchies, was actually just the first straw for me, there were plenty more straws to break the camel’s back after that.

Similar Titles:

Speech & Debate (2017) - Conquering intolerance with hilarity and amusement.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) - Uplifting teenage drama with humour, heart and soul.