Netflix still hasn’t found the formula for comedy success. Or rather, it continues in the midst of what appears to be a messy and sometimes desperate attempt to make the audience laugh. The Year I Graduated, starring Rebel Wilson, again finds itself in the dilemma of being a sleeper hit with no substance. And what is even worse, one of the films on the platform shows that its original productions are facing an uncomfortable point. The fact of being audience phenomena just for having at your disposal, the considerable audience of channel subscribers.
In particular, The Year of My Graduation deals with a complicated problem. Rebel Wilson, whose career was based on physical and frontal comedy, tries to adjust to a new register. One that doesn’t depend on his appearance or the ability of the films he stars in to use her as the center of some kind of offensive mockery. The change – thank you – could have been effective, if not because Alex Hardcastle’s film misses it completely. The film lacks the ingenuity to use Wilson’s naturalness and malicious vitality.
And when he does, he mixes it up with a version of the subversive that borders on the ridiculous. The film attempts a pseudo-critique of the dilemmas of culture, the structural changes of the last decade, and our perception of time, and it fails. As if that weren’t enough, he also dares to conceive of corrosive humor as opposed to modern sensibility. Neither does it and specifically, not because the argument lacks tools, but because the interest of the script is in another space. Specifically, amid a poorly armed gossip about contemporary adolescent life, its contrast with that of decades ago, and hope. All in a sugar-coated and tedious package, proving that Netflix can’t find the formula — if any — for comedy.
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The year of my graduation, the boring bell of Netflix
One of Wilson’s greatest qualities is his self-conscious and at times outrageous and subversive humor. Trapped in the Hollywood stereotype of the obese, offensive woman, the actress spent much of her career laughing her head off. But now, the total change in her registry forces him to vary her style or in any case, reinvent herself from the basics. Especially with a public attitude in which she made it clear that she needs to move in another direction. My graduation year was the perfect opportunity to show that her capacity for humor has a new dimension.
But Wilson doesn’t make it. The actress, whose career in comedy is based on high-end supporting roles, has real problems sustaining the film. Much more troubling, she resorts to her usual tricks, this time without her script accompanying her. The result is a cheap copy of much more solid movies like Never Kissed Raja Gosnell or that wicked teen movie institution, Mean Girls.
The premise, which tells the story of a teenage girl who falls into a coma and wakes up 20 years later, is absurd by necessity. But instead of exploring the impossibility and its consequences, The Year of My Graduation is focused on ironizing current culture. It does, but without the effectiveness to prove its point — generational and social change — and in the end, The Year of My Graduation. Wilson goes out of his way to demonstrate his — undoubted — talent for the mocking. Because this time, the film does not focus only on jokes, but on an underlying dilemma. This 37-year-old woman with the mind of a 17-year-old must find her place in the world. And she must also do it, amid the feeling of disenchantment about the future. But whether it’s because Wilson needs her usual platitudes or because the Netflix movie doesn’t decide its tone, the film is a failure of narrative imagination.
Netflix and its fight for laughter
Netflix, which has a long history of making wacky comedies with sour undertones, is trying to make The Year I Graduated more than just entertainment. But in reality, the film is another of the platform’s originals built at the stroke of an algorithm. Or at least, that is what the fact that every joke and every plot twist seems to suggest is planned to fuel pointless controversy.
But specifically, it’s disappointing that Wilson misses the opportunity to show that his curious sense of humor is more than just grotesque mockery. Halfway between the irony, the easy joke, and the simplistic morality, the film declines as insubstantial. And what is still, shows that the platform continues with empty successes that call its content into question. The year of my graduation is perhaps Netflix’s umpteenth attempt to make people laugh. And this time, the failure — as insistent and chaotic — is more evident and painful than other times.