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Netflix’s *“Do Revenge” offers a fun, updated rendition of Alfred Hitchcock’s *“Strangers on a Train,” though instead of being a noir thriller, it takes a modern approach and turns it into a dark comedy (Photo provided by Roger Ebert).

Film Review: ‘Do Revenge’ avenges classic teen movies

Netflix's "Do Revenge" offers a fun, updated rendition of Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train," though instead of being a noir thriller, it takes a modern approach and turns it into a dark comedy. It is a worthy modern teenage film for a newer generation of adolescents with a star-studded cast, clever plot and remarkable soundtrack. As for most teenage films today, it takes the usual teenage tropes but adds a level of self-awareness needed to cultivate younger audiences. 

The film embarks on two teenage girls' journey to get revenge on their enemies by swapping one's revenge for the other to commit. Popular "it girl" Drea Torres (Camila Mendes) strives to get back at her ex-boyfriend for leaking her sex tape while new transfer student Eleanor (Maya Hawke) wants to get revenge on a girl that stirred up a predatory rumor about her. Together, these two young girls unite to execute humiliation on the people who did them wrong.

Some of the main plot points are obviously recycled from other recent teen adaptations, but it tries to take those similarities and turn them into satire. After a video is leaked of the protagonist, she is shamed by her peers. In contrast, her boyfriend is uplifted for starting a "Cis Hetero Men Championing Female Identifying Students League" to "apologize" for his actions. These satirical "Gen-Z" jokes make the film more bearable than other teen movies targeted toward a specific generation by actually giving them what they want.

One of the film's glaring problems is that the cast is way out of the designated age range, as most of them are in their mid-20s. Camilla Mendes, the film's main character, is 10 years older than the high school student she is playing. Though it may not seem too noticeable that the cast is averagely older than the characters they are playing, the cast is full of recognizable faces, therefore making most viewers aware of the issue.

There are so many familiar faces for one to recount, from "Stranger Things'" Maya Hawke to "13 Reasons Why" alum Alisha Boe to "Game of Thrones" star Sophie Turner. Though the age difference is significantly abrupt, there is no denying the overabundance of talent in this star-studded cast, as each actor and actress provides their own subtlety and heart towards their character performance.

An underdeveloped role was 2000s icon Sarah Michelle Geller, who added tons of charm and delight every time she was onscreen, but her runtime was not enough. This isn't the first time Netflix had included a proficient actor from the 2000s just to snuff them out. Geller's former co-star, Matthew Lillard, had a partial role in Netflix's "He's All That" in 2021 but was barely given the attention he deserves.

The soundtrack features plenty of TikTok trending songs, including "Brutal" by Olivia Rodrigo and "Happier Than Ever" by Billie Eilish. Every now and then, an older song would creep in, typically ones that were also trending with teens back in the 90s or 2000s. With a lengthy soundtrack, there's a song for everyone to recognize and enjoy whilst watching. 

Costuming was a huge part of the film, from the flashy party outfits to the pastel school uniforms, every outfit choice creates its own spectacle while partially distracting to the eye. For a teenage film, it somewhat creates an unrealistic ideal of how a teenager dresses, not allowing the film to be a proper fashion inspiration like previous teenage films had. It's trying to be the next "Clueless" or "Heathers," being dubbed as both a teen comedy and a fashion inspiration, even though it does the best that it can, it doesn't fully measure up. 

Modernizing a teenage film allows for sexuality to be explored, without creating too much of a scandal. With one of the main characters being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, it's an important piece of representation for a film as big as this. The movie also does well with including diverse cast members, relatively matching the normal demographics of a teenage crowd. 

The film's runtime is just about two hours, which doesn't seem to fly by. It significantly cares about its character development, thoroughly establishing every character arc and taking its time to dive deep into its focus. 

The film should have taken its theatrical energy towards making this story a television show. With so many characters, relationships, backstories, and plot points, it would just make sense to do so. Netflix, always wanting to drop yet another hit teen show, never learns its lesson about what they should be working more with. Perhaps a second film could be in the works since there seems to be a wide audience appreciation following the film's release. 

"Do Revenge" definitely has its fun, dramatic moments, balancing the usual teenage tropes with the ability to stick out on its own, despite some flaws. Overall, it manages to be one of the best teenage comedies that the platform has put out in years, avenging the prominent teen movies that came before it. 

Loganhumphrey_

Loganciarahumphrey

lh129720@ohio.edu

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