Reel Thoughts: “Do Revenge” ushers in a new age for teen comedies


Illustration by Gemma DeCetra

“Do Revenge” was released Sept. 16.

And the Netflix executives looked upon their romantic-comedy-starved, content-hungry Gen Z audience and said, “Let us satiate their hunger with a movie so delicious, so daring, so unexpected that they won’t believe it’s on Netflix.”

They approached modern TV icons Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke and said, “Bring forth unto us a performance that can only rival the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Bynes and all those other early ʼ00s teen movie stars.”

Thus, on the sixteenth of September in the year 2022, Netflix released “Do Revenge,” ushering in a new era of iconic teen movies. 

At least, that’s how I imagine this incredible movie was conceptualized. 

“Do Revenge” centers on high school students Drea (Mendes) and Eleanor (Hawke), who team up to wreak vengeance on their enemies. They “do” this revenge by targeting each other’s nemesis instead of their own, an idea created seeking to avoid punishment for their actions.

It’s nearing the end of junior year and Drea is no longer the “Head Bitch in Charge” of her posh private school, Rosehill Country Day, after her boyfriend leaks her sex tape. To make matters worse, Drea, who attends the school on scholarship, finds her application to Yale threatened by the aftermath of the situation. (She, rightfully, punched the ex-boyfriend.) 

That summer, Drea meets Eleanor at a tennis camp Drea works at. The two connect when Eleanor reveals she was outcast after a false rumor that she forcibly kissed another Rosehill student, Carissa. She also divulges that her parents are forcing her to transfer to Rosehill for senior year, prompting the two to team up as revenge partners. 

Inevitably, hijinks ensue. Their paths are destined to be bumpy from the start, and what begins as a simple revenge plan is complicated by new relationships and past resentment.

Replete with Gen Z humor, star cameos and an iconic soundtrack, “Do Revenge” is a case study in making an original film in 2022. Amid the countless sequels, reboots and generally poorly written movies coming out these days, this film feels like a breath of fresh air. The jokes don’t come off as written by an adult trying to poke fun at Gen Z culture, nor does the plot feel like a formulaic attempt to go viral (“She’s All That,” I’m looking at you). The movie is a bit outrageous at times, but what rom-com doesn’t involve some suspension of disbelief?

Still, the film pays homage to its predecessors. In one scene, Drea and her new love interest, Russ, throw paint-filled water balloons at each other, invoking the infamous paintball scene from “10 Things I Hate About You.” The uniforms at Rosehill also feature pastel plaid ensembles, reminiscent of Cher’s yellow set in “Clueless.” A movie is only as iconic as its styling, and “Do Revenge” delivers.

But what sets these references apart from feeling like recycled content is that they are subtle. They work well within the film, which blends originality with beloved cultural moments. I didn’t recognize many of the references until much later, which speaks to the film’s ability to appear unique. The references I did understand made me sentimental, as I recalled the heartfelt moments that made me fall in love with the genre in the first place.

So, if you’re tired of movies where teenagers don’t speak like real people, you hate when influencers pretend to be real actors or you’re just looking for that next classic rom-com, check out “Do Revenge.” I think Oscar Winner Olivia Colman would definitely agree.

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Twitter: @yikesmeher

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