×

Film Review: ‘Good Girls Get High’

This “high” concept teen comedy about female friendship and panic over the onset of adulthood distinguishes itself in a crowded genre.

Director:
Laura Terruso
With:
Abby Quinn, Stefanie Scott

1 hour 17 minutes

For the most part, successful teen comedies follow a tried and true formula. Memorable high school movies typically feature characters who feel like outsiders floundering hilariously en route to the revelation that simply by being themselves, they’ll find what’s eluded them for so long. John Hughes knew it well, as did his imitators, realizing that even small deviations can be enough to refresh the genre for a new generation. Full of charm, humor, and heart, director Laura Terruso’s “Good Girls Get High” mixes it up, delivering a “high” concept comedy in which the two kids least likely to go astray do exactly that.

High school senior Sam Jensen (Abby Quinn) and her best friend Danielle Compton (Stefanie Scott) have always lived by the rules. While the rest of their classmates were out doing the crazy, stupid things normal teens do, the two overachieving co-valedictorians were either crushing their extracurriculars, rollerblading around town, or enjoying wholesome activities on Friday nights. However, when the pair discovers they’ve been voted the school’s “Biggest Good Girls,” it sends Danielle into a tailspin. She convinces Sam there’s a ticking clock on their irrational, wild days and if they don’t do something about it now, they’ll be locked into these roles for the rest of their lives. After Sam discovers a joint hidden in her single father’s (Matt Besser) laundry, the two pals start behaving badly with their very on-brand style of pragmatism.

Working from the blueprint of Sarah Miller’s book, Terruso and co-writer Jennifer Nashorn Blankenship demonstrate a clear understanding of what it takes to craft a finely-tuned, female-forward feature. The gals’ friendship is always at the forefront of the action. Our heroines are smart, funny, capable young women, who, despite their wits being impaired, remain true to themselves. Occasionally the perspective slips into their psyches, showing their world through fuzzy “weed cam” shots, Sam’s daydreamy longings for science teacher Mr. D (Danny Pudi), or Danielle’s slo-mo fantasies about harlequin-romance-haired hunk Jeremy (Booboo Stewart).

Sam and Danielle’s schoolgirl crushes aren’t their endgame; their reward is the fidelity of their friendship, and the male characters serve to complement that. It even subverts traditional roles: The character who’d usually be written as a “mean girl,” social activist influencer Ashanti (Chanté Adams), is admired and supported by the gals. The character who’d stereotypically be portrayed as the condescending authority figure, pregnant cop Patty (Lauren Lapkus), finds a lovely kinship with the pair.

The filmmakers also know how to build a highly comedic scenario. The tomfoolery the two find themselves embroiled in is absurdly funny. Though there are raunch-com elements here, the gross-out factor is fairly tame. For instance, instead of getting scatological during an intimate encounter where one character fears her upset stomach will ruin the mood (an operatic aria perfectly captures her anxiety), it’s merely gaseous emanations. An accidental sexting is handled practically. By framing the girls’ shenanigans with Sam’s Harvard admissions confessional, “Good Girls” delivers the exposition with witty commentary.

Augmenting the narrative drive, cinematographer Benjamin Rutkowski bathes the protagonists’ world in saturated colors. Sam’s sanctuaries, such as her bedroom and family ice-cream shop, are color-coded in welcoming teals and yellows. Danielle surrounds herself with light pastels. Composer Jay Israelson provides a warm ’80s-inspired synth score that would’ve suited Hughes himself.

With heartening, encouraging messages that speak to the target audience and beyond, “Good Girls Get High” doesn’t stray too far from the formula, but manipulates it in such a way that feels fresh.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Good Girls Get High'

Reviewed at LA Film Festival, Los Angeles, Sept. 22, 2018. Running time: 77 MIN.

Production: A Blue Ribbon Content presentation of an Alloy Entertainment production. Producers: Leslie Morgenstein and Elysa Dutton. Executive producers: Tripp Reed, Ivana Kirkbride and Chris Castallo.

Crew: Director: Laura Terruso. Screenplay: Laura Terruso, Jennifer Nashorn Blankenship, based on the book by Sarah Miller. Camera (color): Benjamin Rutkowski. Editors: John Wesley Whitton, Stacey Schroeder. Music: Jay Israelson.

With: Abby Quinn, Stefanie Scott, Booboo Stewart, Danny Pudi, Isabelle Fuhrman, Lauren Lapkus, Matt Besser, Chanté Adams

More Film

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content