‘Do Revenge’ is the teen comedy you’ve been waiting for

The movie poster for "Do Revenge" is pictured. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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Netflix does not have a strong history with teen comedies, with a majority of them being predictable, repetitive and overall lacking in quality. From the three mediocre “The Kissing Booth” films to the uninteresting “The Last Summer” (2019), Netflix constantly produces teen comedies — and yet none of them remain memorable. Creating a successful teen comedy or drama is not an easy feat. Few become iconic within the world of pop culture — think “Mean Girls” (2004), “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012) and “Clueless” (1995). The recently released  “Do Revenge” (2022), though, has earned its rightful place among its predecessors and will potentially become a cult classic. 

Loosely inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train” (1951), “Do Revenge” follows popular girl Drea’s (Camila Mendes) fall from grace after her boyfriend leaks an intimate video of her at the end of her junior year. Over the summer, after being abandoned by her friends, Drea meets Eleanor (Maya Hawke) at the tennis camp where she works. The two discuss the ways they have been hurt by their peers, with Drea’s nude video scandal and Eleanor being the victim of a destructive rumor spread at a summer camp. They decide to help each other get revenge on the people who harmed them.

The appeal of “Do Revenge” comes from a feeling of nostalgia many may feel for iconic late-’90s/early 2000s teen comedies. The film pays homage to a variety of films that came before it. Gabbi (Talia Ryder) gives Eleanor a tour of the school’s cliques just like Janis Ian did for Cady Heron in “Mean Girls.” Drea has a paint fight with Russ (Rish Shah) in a scene reminiscent of Kat Stratford and Patrick Verona’s paintball date in “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999).

The film’s entire aesthetic has its own appeal, specifically in its costume design. The uniforms of all of the Rosehill students are typical of any private school, featuring an abundance of khakis, plaid skirts, sweaters and ties. Rosehill, however, stands out with a pastel color palette as opposed to the normal reds, blues and blacks. The uniforms show that although “Do Revenge” is a high school comedy, this is not your typical high school, and definitely not a realistic one. 

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With the uniforms and their day-to-day clothes, each character has a specific look that aims to show a side of themself that may not be clear from their actions. Max (Austin Abrams), the most popular boy in school, tends to wear baggy khakis with his uniform, and outside of class, he is seen in a variety of patterned shirts. His style is reminiscent of popular men’s fashion icons today such as Jacob Elordi, Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet, which highlights Max’s desperation to be seen and idolized by his peers. As for the women in this film, Drea and Eleanor’s fashion work hand in hand. While Drea is seen in a variety of silhouette-hugging dresses and draws inspiration from the ‘90s, Eleanor tends to go for more flowy outfits and draws inspiration from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The purpose of these two characters having distinct looks goes to show how though they are friends, they have very different motivations and drastically different backgrounds. 

Though much of the film is rooted in ‘90s comedy tropes and the fashion inspiration comes from former eras, the film takes a modern approach when it comes to the soundtrack. With songs like Olivia Rodrigo’s “brutal” (2021) and Tate McRae’s “she’s all i wanna be” (2022), the film perfectly blends old and new trends. The most iconic use of music in the film would have to be the ending scene, when Drea and Eleanor blast Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” (1997). 

The cast of this film was surprising, as few of the actors are known for comedy. Hawke is the comedic relief character, Robin Buckley, in “Stranger Things” (2016–), but the overall tone of the show is quite dark. Additionally, actors like Abrams, Mendes and Alisha Boe are frequently seen in TV dramas. Even with a lack of history in comedies, each actor had impeccable comedic timing and delivered hilarious, quotable one-liners. Most notably, “Game of Thrones” (2011–2019) star Sophie Turner garnered a lot of attention for her appearance, with countless internet users asking when she will next appear in a comedy. 

What makes “Do Revenge” a successful teen comedy is that it is campy and over-the-top, while still maintaining a sense of realism. The characters are not meant to be examples of real people in high school. Instead, they serve as exaggerated caricatures of certain high school tropes. Often in this genre of film, writers try too hard to be relatable to their predominantly Gen Z audience and ultimately fail. Though characters in this film are not realistic, the emotions and motives behind their actions are, which is what makes it relatable and watchable.

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Summary

"Do Revenge" is a camp, hilarious comedy that draws inspiration from various early-’90s and late-2000s films. The film does not take itself too seriously, and succeeds in being one of the few teen comedies on Netflix that is actually watchable.

5 stars
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