Teen angst is back


From left, Maya Hawke as Eleanor and Camila Mendes as Drea in Do Revenge. Kim Simms/Netflix

Stories about the high school King and Queen, cool kids, outcasts, bullies, romance, friendships or even rivalry never get old in teen movies because there will always be a new generation who appreciate coming-of-age stories. Netflix’s latest original Do Revenge is another teen comedy presented on the platform time and time again, like The Kissing Booth series, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) and Tall Girl (2019).

To be honest, it gets harder each year for me to enjoy such movies as they are for a generation and demographic that I’m just not a part of anymore. However, Do Revenge gave me a different vibe as the movie leans towards dark comedy, and it brings back the style of teen 90s-2000s nostalgia movies like Clueless (1995), Mean Girls (2004) and Easy A (2010), but with modern twists and even more evil characters.

Do Revenge follows a girl named Drea (Camila Mendes), who at the peak of her high school superstardom gets her entire life turned upside down after an explicit video clip gets leaked to the whole school, supposedly by her boyfriend and school heartthrob Max (Austin Abrams). As Drea tries to make sense of what happened, she meets Eleanor, an awkward new transfer student who is upset to find out that she now has to go to school with her old bully, Carissa (Ava Capri), who started a nasty rumour about her when they were younger. Drea and Eleanor form an unlikely and secret friendship, setting up plans to “do revenge” on each other’s tormentors.

The movie takes just under two hours to tell in a small amount why our main characters feel wronged and why they want to seek revenge. While Drea is a pretty straightforward narcissistic character, Eleanor’s character has a rich backstory. And through both of their experiences, it’s easy to see how they’ve been betrayed and why they’d want to take down the people responsible or shame them.

For fans of 90s teen movies, watching Do Revenge will take you down memory lane to teen things like wardrobe, hair choices, personality traits, makeover scenes, elaborate schemes, payback, revenge and exposure. Another standout element in this movie is the fun mix of the 90s and early 2000s famous tunes, like Third Eye Blind’s How’s It Going To Be, Hole’s Celebrity Skin and Meredith Brooks’ Bitch, combined with current songs like Juliana Madrid’s Pretend or Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever — so pretty much anybody that watches this is sure to have at least one song they can sing along to. The majority of the visuals in Do Revenge also look great. The production uses a ton of bright and clean colours, making everything have a purity to it in contrast to the dirtiness of our characters.

As the title suggests, the majority of this movie is about planning and seeking revenge. The plot involves secrets, gossip, backstabbing and the feeling of never trusting anybody. Each of our main characters comes across as angry, vengeful and just really mean, similar to those that they’re trying to get revenge on. Unfortunately, since so much of each character is a facade, it’s hard to believe anything we witness — or have an emotional connection to them. Besides our main characters, a lot of supporting characters here are not fleshed out. There are far too many of them and not enough dialogue.

Despite the movie being labelled a dark comedy, I didn’t laugh much. I think some of the snark and sarcasm sometimes works, but most of the time, I found the humour predictable. The movie tries to shake things up further by providing romance for the main characters, but honestly, I didn’t care for that. They’re not necessarily bad, but it’s about as bland as they come except for a few cute moments where they vent to their respective partners. Also, while most of the story arc is nothing to be excited about, there was a twist in the last quarter that completely subverted my expectations and I appreciate that. It really kind of made the journey we went on a little bit more worth it.

Overall, Do Revenge is a predictable dark comedy teen movie, but with some engaging storytelling and modern messages. Mendes and Hawke also gave impressive performances, though both of their characters are unfortunately confusing and not so easy to root for. But if you like black comedies and want to see one set in a high school setting, check this out.