REVIEW: ‘Crush’ Is the Good Kind of Cringe

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Crush - But Why Tho

Crush is a Hulu Original coming-of-age movie directed by Sammi Cohen, written by Casey Rackham and Kirsten King, and starring and Auli’i Cravalho. Paige (Blanchard) is struggling to figure out how to fulfill the promo for her CalArts application, a piece depicting her happiest moment. She has a lot of ideas but they lack emotion. Perhaps because she’s only had two personality traits her whole life: being an artist, and being gay. Neither of them has particularly challenged her or brought her outside her comfort zone. Hence why her best friends Dilon (Tyler Alvarez) and Stacey (Teala Dunn) wish she would just tell Gabriela (Isabella Ferreira) she has a crush on her. But when Paige gets suspended because the principal (Michelle Buteau) believes her to be a vandal by the moniker KingPun who keeps tagging the school with punny graffiti, she must join the track team and seek out the real KingPun to keep her record clean. And you know, maybe form a new crush on Gabriela’s sister Aj (Cravalho) in the meantime?

I’m what you might call a Zillenial—too young to remember much of the 90s but too old to hang properly with the Tik Tok generation. So forgive me, Gen Z, if I misuse the following word in describing Crush. But boy is Crush cringe. And you know what? Good for Crush! Gen Z deserves a sometimes cringy, sometimes sweet, lesbian coming-of-age story where the plot has nothing to do with coming out or discovering one’s sexuality. It’s just a straight-up awkward, totally enjoyable flick that doesn’t try to be groundbreaking or special, it just strives to be entertaining. Which in and of itself does make it pretty extraordinary, even if the movie itself is just fine.

The cringe is because it is trying so, so hard to play it cool. The script is completely over the top in a way that at first had me almost turning the movie off until I realized it was as actually trying to be as insincere as it felt watching it. From there, the bad jokes, the very uncomfortable mother (Megan Mullally), and even the way too PDA couple that is Stacey and Dilon all started to actually endear me. In fact, its abundance of cringe made its characters feel that much more real. Real life is more mundane than the movies, so going over the top in portraying the quintessential high school experience worked to Crush’s advantage.

There are a few glaring editing mistakes, including a computer screen describing a high school track meet as an NCAA event and an iPhone camera screen where the previous picture is the same exact picture as the one being taken before it’s ever taken. This did kind of catch me and take away from the suspension of my cringe tolerance for a few brief moments but weren’t really big sins in the end. Neither was the absolutely obvious plot. Sometimes, an obvious plot is just comforting because there’s no anxiety about how things will end. And I’m glad that obvious today at least means something more dynamic, with the way that teens are simply more comfortable expressing their feelings without twisting their arms.

This certainly extends to the normalizing of diverse gender and sexuality expressions and identities. It’s extra comforting in watching Crush that it’s a lesbian movie that has nothing to do with being a lesbian movie. They even make a joke about it—so many of the kids are queer these days, and finally, as media continues to reflect the normalcy of today’s youth’s words, they now too have a just blatantly fine and somewhat cringy coming-of-age movie with a perfectly rootable couple, plenty of endearing side characters, and lots of queer kids all across the background.

Crush kind of feels like a TV-MA DCOM in the most positive way (I mean, just look at its cast). It isn’t a bad movie at all. It’s the good kind of cringe, where you tense up for a minute, laugh it off, and just roll with it from then on. It’s nice to have a movie that isn’t trying to make any points or bring its characters out of the closet. They’re living over-the-top high school lives just like the straight kids of countless movies before them. It’s pretty sweet and pretty funny at times just as well, making it totally enjoyable even with its many awkward moments.

Crush is streaming now on Hulu.


Crush
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Crush kind of feels like a TV-MA DCOM in the most positive way (I mean, just look at its cast). It isn’t a bad movie at all. It’s the good kind of cringe, where you tense up for a minute, laugh it off, and just roll with it from then on. It’s nice to have a movie that isn’t trying to make any points or bring its characters out of the closet. They’re living over-the-top high school lives just like the straight kids of countless movies before them. It’s pretty sweet and pretty funny at times just as well, making it totally enjoyable even with its many awkward moments.