Starring: Rowan Blanchard, Auli’i Cravalho, Megan Mullally, Michelle Buteau, and Aasif Mandavi.
Directed By: Sammi Cohen
Where I Watched It: Hulu
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Description Provided By: Point 360
Narrated By: Dave Wallace
The Plot: A teen romcom centered around a high school artist (Blanchard) who steps out of her comfort zone to run track, where she isn’t any good, but luckily a teammate (Cravalho) takes pity on her and teaches her the ways of the track, and this friendship just might turn into something more, if someone’s dang sister can stay out of the equation.
What Works: as with all teen movies since the beginning of time, the cast has to be likable, and that happens here. Even though this feels like an amalgamation of everything that came before it, just with an LGBT twist, it is actually charming because the teen cast is charming. It’s particularly nice to see Cravalho actually in the flesh, and not just stuck behind the voice of Moana.
It’s hard to determine which teen films will end up being the next Sixteen Candles, She’s All That, Easy A, Love Simon, or which ones end up being largely forgotten about. Anyone remembr Drive me Crazy with Melissa Joan Hart and Adrien Grenier? No? Just me?
And in the age of streaming, something like Crush could end up being another Drive Me Crazy, as yu end up being confined to an audience of teenagers who have Hulu subscriptions. So who really knows if Crush will be a cultural touchstone or not. It’s cute enough, but it’s also really not original. Even though in 2022, it feels exactly like the kind of teen comedies we get now, a lot of them are flipped with female leads, because for so many years we got films where the men were out to lose their virginity to the hottest girl in school. Now, the three biggest characters, or arguably the top four teenagers in this film are all girls. But yet, you’ve totally been here before.
What Doesn’t Work: As forward thinking as I know Crush would love to believe that it is, it still fell into so many tropes of the genre that I actually found myself wondering if john Hughes would have eventually made this film. You have the sex positive parent (mullally), who at a cringeworthy level won’t leave her child alone. They talk about sex toys, and she’s also very out of touch, and that’s all supposed to be hilarious. It’s worked before, Eugene Levy built a franchise out of it (yes, he built it, as he’s the only cast member from the theatrical films to repeatedly appear in the straight-to-video entries).
There’s that male coach off the female team who is super awkward and somewhat inappropriate. Kind of like the coach from mean Girls. There’s a quirky principal, also, similar to Tim Meadows in Mean Girls just with the flavor of Michelle Buteau.
Our protagonist is an artist, and we’ve seen tortured high school artists before. She’s All That comes to mind. There’s the awkwardness of two people starting off just as friends, and then developing feelings, there’s that raging high school party full of beer and no adults, and every adult in the film is presented in a silly manner, and finally our lead must make a big speech in front of the whole school at some point. Oh, and of course there’s a student body President election because there’s always either an election or prom King and Queen for our kids to have to navigate through.
It’s just not quite bucking the trend as much as it would hope. Yes, the puns are cute,but really they just exist to help our leading lady make a grand gesture. Sometimes formulaic works. Really, only time will decide if this film will be remembered. Or whether or not it will end up with a cult following like Jawbreaker.
The Blind Perspective: This is a fairly easy film to describe, and the description does a good job of navigating the biggest hurdles. It makes a valiant effort to let us know how the kids look, though having been able to see before, most teen films have characters that transform their style over time. I don’t think that happens in this plot, as it’s not set up for that, but if it did, we don’t get constant updates on style choice.
The film features a significant amount of art, and the art is well described. There are also some more intimate moments, with glances, and brushes of fingers, that help further emotional connections, and all of those are included. So, the details are all there, and I can’t really complain. It was an easy film to follow, though I think I might have been able to follow it without the audio description, I just would not have picked up on the art.
Final Thoughts: This is a fine teen comedy. I’m a little surprised by the TV-MA rating, since I’ve seen worse in PG-13 films, but movies with LGBT content are always scrutinized with more intensity than others. So it doesn’t fully surprise me. However, I’m not sure this is a top tier teen comedy that will go down in the pantheon of teen films across history, probably dating back to Beach Blanket Bingo or something like that. But, I’m not sure with the advent of streaming that a film like this actually could break out. I’m fairly certain people already forgot about the He’s All that remake from last year, and this isn’t any better or worse than that.
Final Grade: B