Here’s a teen romcom that’s explosive (literally), sentimental, funny, and sweet.
The set-up for “Spontaneous” is either inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic or the ending to “Ready or Not.” It’s a teen romcom, an R-rated teen romcom, about an outbreak in suburban New Jersey that causes students to explode. They’re popping like the balloons in the library scene in the 1990 “It.”
What exactly is making the teenagers pop? The alcohol, the drugs, or does it only take place at school? The first two guess, no one can say, but as for the third, it’s not just at school. It’s happening in various parts of the area.
Now this scares me, and yet, at the same time, there’s something funny and sweet inside. Just imagine what probably would have happened if the detention kids in “The Breakfast Club” exploded or maybe the soon-to-be graduates in “Superbad.” Maybe the assistant principal would have been sprayed with blood in the middle of his “That’s another detention for you” argument. Maybe if McLovin popped, Seth would say: “Serves you right for that dumb I.D.” Who knows? For now, we have “Spontaneous” to view.
It stars Katherine Langford as a down-to-Earth teen named Mara, who gives the audience a few bios on the exploding teens. In her high school story, she’s been best friends with Tess (Hayley Law) since they were kids, and they plan to live in a beach house. And then one night, she receives a text from a teen who has a crush on her.
Charlie Plummer plays her secret admirer named Dylan, whose father died of a heart attack, and texts her his feelings for her before it’s too late for him. That is if it is too late for him, because who knows who’ll be popped next. And in addition, he decides to spend as much time as he can with Mara. He wants to live life to the fullest, especially when the government quarantines the young lovers and their classmates in tents, for a short while until a cure is found.
The cast also includes Piper Perabo and Rob Huebel as Mara’s loving parents, and Yvonne Orji (HBO’s “Insecure”) as the main detective. All of them try to help the girl, when she resorts to alcoholism and drugs to ease the pain. As short as their screen times are, they contribute to the film’s sensitivity. And that also goes for Law as Mara’s BFF.
“Spontaneous,” based on Aaron Starmer’s book and directed by Brian Duffield (in his directorial debut), holds a delicate combination of sentimental value and dark humor. I’m not going to lie. I was uncomfortable with the explosions, because I have a fear of dying. Please don’t tease me about it in the comments. But I was able to look past the blood and gore to see the true colors inside. And believe me, it’s more than just the color red.
Langford delivers a knock-out performance as a teen who loses her faith in her world, while Plummer adds chemistry with her. I admire how they’re both able to connect during their crisis, and how the narratives takes risks and plunges them in various points. None of us know when each of us is going to die, and I, frankly, don’t want to know. But I do acknowledge that the movie reminds us to never hold back on our dreams and ambitions, and to keep moving forward. It’s about now. Now is the time to do what you have to accomplish.
I’m glad I’m able to write this positive feedback, without bursting, because you need to see how this dark comedy warms you up.
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