Well, it’s been 17 years (17 years!) since 10 Things I Hate About You came out, and 12 (12!) since Mean Girls came out, so I guess it was time for another female-driven be-yourself teen comedy.

This one kind of splits the difference, and is far inferior to either (both would probably get a 5/5 on this blog). Bianca (Mae Whitman) discovers accidentally that she is the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” of her friend group. So she ditches her friends immediately and strikes out on her own, with an unspoken crush on a tousle-haired guitarist, Toby (Nick Eversman). It doesn’t go super well. Fortunately, the captain of the football team, Wes (Robbie Amell), is failing science, so she can tutor him in smart while he can tutor her in cool. Shades of Mean Girls here, especially because Wes has an awful on-again, off-again girlfriend who makes everyone’s life a living hell. Her name is Madison, she is played by Bella Thorne, and she is about 98% less interesting or amusing than Regina George.

Our problems don’t end there. First, of course, Mae Whitman isn’t ugly or fat, but it’s carefully explained to us that these things don’t have be literal, and plenty of girls as good-looking as Ms. Whitman have low self-esteem, so…fair enough, more or less. It’s also not clear why she would ditch her friends quite that quickly, or why they wouldn’t resent it a tiny bit more, since that’s not a particularly nice thing to do. Next up, this movie is saturated with social media slang, to the point where it will be unintelligible in ten years. Not only that, it has Snapchat(?)-style mark-ups to drive its point home. KIDS THESE DAYS. Worst of all, this movie actually has Allison Janney in it, but she’s just playing her standard slightly-nutty-mom character, which just teases us with the glorious specter of Ms. Perky.

The rest of the stuff, however, goes pretty well. The writing is smoother and the whole thing is better-acted than the vast, vast majority of teen comedies. It’s predictable, and the all-American, blue-and-yellow, bog-standard high school set-dressing receives next to no effort, but it’s cute and capable.

Plus, Ken Jeong is in it, and he is 50% awful, which is 50% less awful than usual.

Directors: Ari Sandel
Rating: PG-13, but I’m pretty sure has a lot more swearing than you could get a PG-13 rating on when I was a lad
Length: 101 minutes
Score: 3/5

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