Friday, October 20, 2023

The Other Zoey: Movie Review

Cute, funny and relatable.
Zoey Miller (Josephine Langford) is The Other Zoey, the less popular, less cool Zoey, the one who’s not dating school soccer star Zack (Drew Starkey). And that’s fine by this Zoey, she’s more interested in getting into grad school for computer sciences anyways than dating some shallow jock. Until Zack gets hit by a car, gets amnesia, and mistakes this Zoey as Zoey Wallace, the soccer-playing very cool Zoey that he is dating, or was dating, it’s going to get complicated.   2023

Directed by: Sara Zandieh

Screenplay by: Matthew Tabak

Starring: Josephine Langford, Drew Starkey

I’m usually not a fan of using amnesia as a plot device, but at the beginning, it is genuinely funny, and they didn’t take it to extremes. It was only his short-term memory that he lost right when he woke up after the accident, which is good since he and the real Zoey had only been dating for a short while, and he gradually re-gained his short-term memory as he recovered. I’m never going to call an amnesia movie realistic, but it feels as close to reality as you can get.

As it has been very clearly established, this Zoey is smart. Extremely well-read, she knows her math and computer sciences and takes history classes for fun. There’s a thin line in these types of characters between unrealistically smart because the writer doesn’t know what an actual smart person is like, and being relatably smart. I am pleased to report that Zoey is realistically smart. She’s relatable, not extreme, and uses her intelligence as a shield to avoid getting close to other people. (The unrealistically smart version of this type of character uses their intelligence to be mean because they don’t have any people skills which is an unfair and inaccurate stereotype that lesser writers make.) It’s these key differences that will get the audience connected to Zoey and go on this rom-com adventure with her.

Zoey plays along with being the other Zoey, at first because the doctor warned them to not do anything to stress Zack out, and then she played along because she tried telling his parents but was interrupted by Miles, who is Zack’s cousin, and who happens to be an MIT grad student that Zoey has a crush on. So now she’s playing along because she needs time with the family to prove to Miles how perfect they are. Meanwhile she’s getting to know Zack who might not be the video game-playing shallow jock that she assumed he was.

Traditional rom-com complications ensue. Speaking of which, screenwriters are much more knowledgeable about classic 90s rom-coms than your average twenty-something university students will be. There were so many references and discussions from Notting Hill to Say Anything and I refuse to believe that all of the characters have watched all of these movies. Maybe Zoey because she was raised by a love-obsessed single mom who’s the right age to love Hugh Grant and John Cusack, but none of the others. However, the parents are played by Heather Graham, Andie MacDowell and Patrick Fabian, so the filmmakers are definitely counting on the audience being familiar with 90s rom-coms.

The inevitable reveal of Zoey’s lies comes to ahead with all main characters present, and it’s as entertaining as you would want it to be. Patrick Fabian and has perfect one-liners along with Zack’s little sisters, and Zoey’s smart so she can almost talk her way out of it.

The Other Zoey looks a lot like other romantic comedies, but they also know it. This one succeeds because it’s cute, funny and relatable (within reason). The characters are well written and it’s a fun way to spend your time.