REASON: An ambitious young woman finds followers and fame when she pretends to be the survivor of a deadly attack, but she soon learns that online notoriety comes with a terrible price.
REVIEW: The idea of someone taking a tragedy and capitalizing on it for social media feels very relevant to 2022. Then add Zoey Deutch to the mix, and my expectations were pretty high for Not okay. Unfortunately, the subject matter isn’t treated with much respect, and the characters are about as barren of personality as can be. Each person just serves the story’s preachy message, with very little dimension. And that is a significant problem to overcome.
I always struggle with movies that are barren of likable characters and Not okay is quite harsh in that regard. We know from the jump that our lead, Danni (Zoey Deutch), is a downright horrible person. She has faked being at a terrorist bombing site and keeps burying herself deeper in the lie. The movie literally starts with a montage of all these people talking bad about her. So the fact that we know she gets busted takes any tension out of the entire rest of the movie. It is simply a waiting game versus questioning whether she will actually receive her benefit. It feels like such a colossal mistake. Deutch remains one of the best young actresses out there, but she doesn’t really get to show it here. Her character is mostly very shallow and her character arc doesn’t feel earned.
Dylan O’Brien plays a Pete Davidson type who clearly cares more about getting high and his social media presence than anything important. He provides some of the only laughs in the entire film even when his character is an absolute douchebag. Also just starred in the recently released one Don’t make me go along with John Cho (Check out our review HERE), I had high expectations for the young star Mia Isaac. Maybe that’s why I was so disappointed. While the character should be a standout here, her scenes mostly just come across as very hokey. She feels more like a point the filmmakers are trying to make, rather than an actual person. And her inclusion almost feels like a slap in the face to those who have actually suffered from these tragedies, to treat them as if their terrible tragedy is the only thing that defines them.
It also tries to bring up the whole “video games create gun violence” argument and made me check and make sure I wasn’t in 1999 again. This really exemplifies the kind of point the film is trying to make. Although I am aware of her acting work, this is the first time I have seen a film from Quinn Shepard. She both wrote and directed Not okay, which is a commendable feat for any 27-year-old. But a little bit of experience would have served this story much better because it seems to be more about “Gotcha” moments than actually teaching its characters.
Not okay puts the influencer culture in the crosshairs, and makes some good points, but ultimately doesn’t have much depth. Spending an entire movie with an influencer is about as close to hell on earth as I can imagine. The subject is very intense, but is almost seen through a soft bubblegum lens. The points it tries to make come across as very juvenile, which is too bad considering the serious subject matter. True satire would probably have served the story better, but as it is, it just lacks any real punch.
Not okay is STREAMING ON HULU JULY 29.