23rd Nov2017

‘The Outcasts’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Victoria Justice, Eden Sher, Ashley Rickards, Avan Jogia, Claudia Lee, Katie Chang, Peyton List, Jazmyn Richardson, Will Peltz, Daniel Eric Gold, Frank Whaley, Harry Katzman, Noah Robbins, Alex Shimizu, Ted McGinley | Written by Dominique Ferrari, Suzanne Wrubel | Directed by Peter Hutchings

the-outcasts-dvd

After falling victim to a humiliating prank by the high school queen bee, Jodi (Victoria Justice) and her best friend Mindy (Eden Sher) plot their revenge by uniting all of the school’s outcasts to overthrow the cruel reign of the popular clique once and for all. But in a tale of “be careful what you wish for,” a taste of power gets the best of all of them, nearly ruining Jodi and Mindy’s friendship and threatening to sabotage Jodi’s budding romance with Dave (Avan Jogia)…

The Outcasts follows a familiar format of an oft-told tale, a them-vs-us story that pits geek against jocks, pretty against plain… The usual stereotypical teen tropes that have been a staple of the genre since it invented. And that’s the thing, why reinvent the wheel? This story has worked before a myriad times and it will work again in the future. However unlike thre more forgettable examples of the genre, this story has two things going for it: co-stars Victoria Justice and Eden Sher.

You see, the friendship between Justice’s Jodi and Sher’s Mindy is core to The Outcasts success; it’s the kind of chemistry that made the films of the two Corey’s so popular in the 80s, that made The Breakfast Club more than just a run of the mill teen movie. And much like the classic comedy duos of the past, this pairs chemistry goes a long way to carrying a script whose story is oh-so-familiar. Whilst Justice channels her inner geek as the music geek Jodi, it’s Sher who really shines. She has an over the top Robin Williams-esque manic energy that harkens back to the Mork and Mindy era of William’s particular brand of physical comedy.

Yet Sher also manages to bring an emotional resonance to the character that is ultimately misunderstood and, at heart, afraid to lose her friendship with Jodi as the pair prepare to graduate from school and go their separate ways. That fear drives Mindy to the extremes – taking her quest to even out the societal pressure of school and end the cliques to ridiculous highs… and lows. Between them Justice and Sher really bring the script, from first-timers Dominique Ferrari and Suzanne Wrubel, to life; making their characters much more three-dimensional than the rest of this film cast.

Speaking of the script, Ferrari and Wrubel might pack their’s with familiar cliches and characters but – thanks to the age-old story it tells (there are definite shades of Revenge of the Nerds here too – not to mention the appearance of Ted McGinley from that franchise); a cast willing to commit to their characters wholeheartedly; and a mix of funny one-liners and pop-culture references – it overcomes to the odds and ends up a warm, funny and sweet comedy that should appeal to teens young and old… and by old I mean those of us who refuse to grow up!

In the end The Outcasts is, surprisingly, the best example of a post-modern, John Hughes-ian teen movie since Mean Girls.

****½ 4.5/5
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With thanks to Vision Films.

 

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