Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)
Critic Consensus: Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, but her movie's okay - largely thanks to Shannon Purser's work in the title role, which is strong enough to counter an uneven narrative.
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Critic Reviews for Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
Much of the film is cringeworthy, and not in the instructive, empathetic manner of Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade.
[It's] a love story that should never be celebrated and, thirty years after Sixteen Candles, another movie I don't want to share with my daughter.
The smart script and butterfly-inducing romance captures those sweet moments of falling in love - whether it's with your crush, or even better, with a friend.
The overall package, despite suffering from some third-act narrative problems, generally goes down easily and boasts a strong, lived-in performance by Shannon Purser.
Audience Reviews for Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
We need to talk about Stranger Things before we get to this review. Its first season, I think, took everybody by storm by how good it was in terms of its retro presentation, synth score, strong casting, writing and storytelling. To say that Stranger Things is Netflix's most popular property is an understatement. This popularity has led to a bonanza of merchandising and plenty other forms of revenue. Living in the digital age, of course, this also leads to a lot of memes online. And one of, if not the most, prevalent memes was the 'Justice for Barb' meme. Barb was a minor character that got killed off in season one and fans, perhaps jokingly, rallied around the character. The reason I bring this up is because, of course, Shannon Purser, who stars in this movie, played Barb in the show. And, honestly, while it would have been nice to see how the show would have differed if Barb had lived and was a regular character, I also think that Barb being killed off was the best thing for Shannon's career. That sounds weird to say, right? Well, the reason I say this is because, if Shannon isn't killed off, her character doesn't become a meme and then, maybe, the doors don't open for her as soon as they did. Naturally, of course, this is all speculation on my part, I don't have any secret knowledge or anything of the sort. Having said that, I think Shannon more than proves herself in this movie, which is, as far as I know, her first real lead role. Shannon is likable, funny, charming and sympathetic which, to me, is key for the character she is portraying. I'll be honest, I liked this movie. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you that it redefines the teen comedy genre, because it doesn't. But it doesn't have to to be an enjoyable movie. I think that's something that people sometimes overestimate. I'm probably guilty of this myself as well, but sometimes we get so jaded that any movie that doesn't blow us away or attempt something new, we instantly dock points from it for that. Though, in my defense, I dock points from movies because of its lack of originality if the movie is no good to begin with. I've seen plenty of movies that have no original bones in their bodies that I still enjoyed. This, of course, is an example of that. One of the things I need to point out, and this is one of the things that I liked, is that the movie tells a story that's very much a modern tale for the digital (centered around catfishing) while also, in some parts, feeling a bit like an 80s movie, like a Sixteen Candles or something like that with Sierra hoping to score a date with the quarterback of her high school football team's rival. But, of course, the quarterback believes that Sierra is another girl entirely so Sierra is forced to team up with Veronica, who's the bitchy girl that always throws shade at her about her weight, looks ,etc, in order to fool Jamey, Sierra's target. In exchange, Sierra will help smarten Veronica up in order for her to get back together with her ex, a college student. So, essentially, much the same way Sydney White was a re-telling of Snow White, this movie is a re-telling of Cyrano de Bergerac. Which is a play that (probably) most of its intended demographic doesn't even know exists. But, at the very least, in some way, they are being taught the classics. I guess that's some consolation? Anyway, I have no clue why I even mentioned that. Regardless, I feel like the movie adds its own touches and it's also an exploration body image and the (still) unrealistic beauty standards for women. This is something that, I feel, we're starting to get better on, but there's still this perception (perhaps subconsciously) that only a certain type of woman is beautiful. So this movie explores that. Perhaps it explores it a little too obviously in that it lacks subtlety. Then again, I don't know how you exactly pull this type of narrative off without not being subtle. It's a worthy story to be told, that's for sure, but, I don't know, it's not like I was blown away by it either. Don't get me wrong, it's a solid narrative, but I don't think that it was as good as it probably should have been. I don't know why, but I just felt that there was something missing in that regard. The romance itself between Sierra and Jamey, despite the latter believing the former is a completely different person, is sweet. Very much teen oriented, for sure, but I think it works. I feel that it works as a result to Shannon Purser who, as I already mentioned, is immensely likable. Noah Centineo, who plays Jamey, also does a good job in this movie. Things get complicated when, at Sierra's behest, Veronica starts going out on dates with Jamey and Sierra (who has developed a friendship with Veronica) maybe notices that Veronica might feel some attraction towards Jamey. This leads Sierra to screwing over Veronica when, really, all she needed was a true friend. Naturally, everything is resolved by the end of the movie and the power of friendship reigns supreme AND Sierra gets her dream guy. How perfectly predictable. But, again, that's not necessarily a bad thing in this case. This is a solid movie. The casting is strong all around, RJ Cyler is definitely the comedic highlight of the movie, Noah Centineo is poised to be a hit, if he isn't already with the teen girls, Kristine Froseth (whom I've never seen before) is also good. And, of course, as I already mentioned, Shannon Purser is very good in this movie. The comedy in the movie isn't exactly out of this world, but it gets the job done regardless. I don't really know what else to say about this movie. It fits perfectly within the teen comedy genre, but it is an enjoyable movie regardless of how neatly it fits in there. Can't exactly say I'd give it a wholehearted recommendation and, in my opinion, Set It Up is a better 'rom-com', but if you've got the time (and the patience for these types of movies) then you should give this a shot. Might surprise you, might not.
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