Universal Pictures | June 10, 2022 | 146 Mins. | Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure
HONOR SOCIETY (2022) l Paramount+ | Release Date: July 29, 2022 | 109 Mins
Honor is an ambitious high school senior whose sole focus is getting into an Ivy League college ... assuming she can first score the coveted recommendation from her guidance counsellor, Mr. Calvin. Willing to do whatever it takes, Honor concocts a Machiavellian plan to take down her top three student competitors, until things take a turn when she unexpectedly falls for her biggest competition, Michael.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Honor Society is a mix-mash of classic teen comedies that unfortunately fails to find the charm of any of the films it is paying homage to, delivering an ultimately frustrating watch despite the efforts of Angourie Rice.
I am a big fan of teen comedies. There is just something truly comforting about the genre with its familiar plot lines, musical moments and pop infused soundtracks, and the chemistry of so many great actors at a young age. Whether it be 10 Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls, She’s All That, Clueless, or any of the other countless classics from this genre in the 1990s and early 2000s, the genre typically never misses and always delivers an entertaining film. Being a fan of the genre, I was intrigued to see how Angourie Rice and Gaten Matarazzo would make their mark on the genre in Honor Society. But unfortunately within minutes of the film starting, I knew that this was going to be a rough watch.
The film follows Rice’s Honor, an over ambitious high school senior who will stop at nothing to get the recommendation of her high school counsellor to help secure acceptance at her dream university: Harvard. This includes sabotaging the other three students in the running for that same recommendation, sinking so low as to sabotage their personal lives so that they will flunk their exams leaving her the only obvious choice for the recommendation.
From the beginning, Honor is a truly despicable character that you instantly hate. She is pretentious, obnoxious and down right nasty to her classmates, exploiting any perceived weakness she sees in them. This includes going so far as pretending to befriend the girl in her class who has no friends, or using her suspicions that one of her classmates is secretly closeted to exploit him even if it forces him to out himself. These personality traits are hard to accept in any character in a film, let alone your lead character that you are supposed to care for. Even if the screenplay paints Honor as a go getter, feminist and powerful female character, at the end of the day she is just the worst.
And don’t even get me started on the subplot involving her predatory guidance counsellor and the roofies that Honor has no second thoughts about using, because this plotline should not be happening in 2022. It’s truly despicable that this is a modern teen film, as while it has plot elements of the classics of the genre like Mean Girls and She’s All That, it one hundred percent misses the heart that made those films instant classics. The plot continues as Honor falls for one her rivals, and eventually comes to a self-realization that she doesn’t like the person she has become. But it's all too little too late as you are so annoyed by her character that you don’t care that she has evolved from a truly horrid character to a nice person.
This is no fault of Rice, who does exactly what is asked of her. Her fourth wall breaks and sinister personna are perfect for the terrible role that is written for her, fully embracing her inner Reese Witherspon from Election. Opposite Rice is Stranger Things’s Matarazzo, who is non-existent in the film for the first hour. He is merely present but lacks any emotion to his role. Though, once his romance starts blossoming with Rice, his performance comes alive. Him and Rice do not have much romantic chemistry, making their romance hard to believe, but they feel like best friends on screen and are a delight to watch on screen together. Until that obvious twist comes, rendering the one character who was remotely likeable in this film as awful as Honor.
There is not even an interesting supporting performance to steal scenes, with all of the supporting characters suffering from being a stock character and being underdeveloped. Even the comedic talents of Christopher Mintz-Plasse are wasted as the school’s guidance counsellor, instead forcing him to constantly to hit on Rice which is creepy and gets old very quickly.
The film also fails to have more than a couple of moments worthy of a slight chuckle, instead leaving the audience to groan and roll their eyes as Honor continues to prove herself a truly horrible individual. I’m certain that there is an audience out there for Honor Society despite it being the exact opposite of what I like in a teen comedy, even though I question why a film with such a horrible lead character is being made for teenagers to watch. Despite Angourie Rice delivering a solid performance and transforming herself into one the most dislikeable lead characters I have witnessed in ages, Honor Society is a truly unbearable film that takes all the hallmarks of the teen comedy and turns them into something disenchanting.
RATING: 1.5 out of 5