By Paisley McGee
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” From comics to films, protagonists across the board are often portrayed as the hero, a person with good intentions, flawless, and a classic trope, the underdog. The list goes on. But what happens when the protagonist is self-centered, cunning, lacks empathy, the villain and a smidge psychopathic. Well this past July, Hulu released its newest R rated film Not Okay directed by Quinn Shepard. Not Okay brings to life a protagonist with such a questionable disposition that it’ll make you wonder, “How far can one person go to maintain a web of lies?”
“Have you ever wanted to be noticed so badly? You didn’t even care what it was for?” At first, Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) is a somewhat relatable 20-something magazine editor who hates her job, struggles with depression, and only has one companion, who just happens to be her pet guinea pig. In an attempt to be noticed by her work crush Collins ( Dylan O’Brien), Danni organizes a trip to Paris but then backs out due to the high airfares. So, putting her photoshop skills to use, she edits her pics to make it look like she is vacationing in Paris all to garner the attention of her work crush. What Danni hadn’t planned for was a terrorist attack occuring the same day at the same location she posted her selfie in Paris. With friends and family anxiously texting her with concerns, instead of telling the truth, she lies and plays victim to further impress her crush. Throughout the film, it’ll leave you wondering. How far is too far, and what lengths will a person go to maintain an image?
This movie features faces like Dylan O’Brien, who starred in Teen Wolf and The Maze Runner, and also includes up and coming actor Mia Isaac. I think this was a good move on the filmmakers’ part because you get to see some new faces on camera as well as some familiar ones.
One of the film’s weaknesses is the use of modern trends. The clothes are a hodge-podge of Y2K, dyed blonde hair strips, colorful makeup, men’s street fashion and chunky rings. Even one of the mannerisms Danni uses seems a bit stereotypical like the “shy girl pose.” If you are a bit confused, one search on Tic-Tok and you’ll remember the trend. The slang used at times also caused me to cringe a little. The slang and the mannerism even when done in a joking manner made me want to recoil because it’s a little too relevant and slightly outdated since trends are constantly evolving faster than ever. Lastly, some of the acting is not strong either. At times, the acting reminds you that you’re watching a movie instead of immersing yourself in the film.
Moving on to the movie’s strengths, Not Okay discusses some rather heavy themes like school shootings and the debate on gun control, so anyone who suffers with PTSD from such topics should be warned. The film also addresses other rather intense topics like activism, gun control, school shootings and white privilege. Some of these issues made for good discourse amongst peers after the movie. On the more lighthearted side, Not Okay features comedy, trends, poetry, friendship and social media influencers. I think this movie will make viewers feel better about themselves. “Hey, at least I’m not like Danni Sanders or Sherri Papini!” So my final rating for this movie is *drum roll please, 7/10 or 3 out of 5 stars.