This social Satire is more serious than it is funny.
Lying always has its consequences-some lies are more hurtful and disgusting than others. And when it comes to the internet and a would-be social media star wanting attention, they’ll do whatever it takes to win. I’ve seen Aubrey Plaza deliver the goods in this notion in “Ingrid Goes West,” when she played a mentally ill woman stalking Elizabeth Olsen, and getting herself in big trouble in the end. Her lie wasn’t as damaging as presented in “Not Okay,” which stars Zoey Deutch as a would-be social media star, who lies about going to Paris in order to gain more friends and fans, just before a bombing attack takes place. Just as she’s flabbergasted about it, she decides to continue her lie for more attention, and the intro spoils the fact that her life will be destroyed.
The would-be social media star is Danni Sanders, who receives numerous messages from her family (Embeth Davidtz as her mother) and new fans about her “surviving” the bombing. Just as she is about to tell the truth, she decides to keep going with the lying. She’ll do anything to be recognized, even if this lie would be unforgivable.
“Not Okay” is a social satire, but I didn’t think the jokes were funny. In fact, in some parts, I felt they were mean, like how when Danni goes to support group, and meets a real victim, whose sister was killed in another bombing, another member invites her for coffee, but Danni rejects his offer by saying she has plans. And there are some obligatory jokes about sex, and phone calls, and so forth.
But I didn’t see “Not Okay” as a comedy, but more of a dramatization on what can happen if people lie about these sort of things to gain attention, and it doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. The real victim I was referring to is Rowan (Mia Isaac in a better, more affectionate role than “Don’t Make Me Go”), who meets Danni in the support group, and invites her on her peace rallies. This young lady is so angry at there evils that murdered her sister that she refuses to be silent, and will stop at nothing to be heard. Every rally she attends and every speech she makes is powerful. Isaac delvers the best performance in the movie in every way possible.
The movie’s cast also features Dylan O’Brien as a social media star named Colin, who becomes Danni’s lover. With blonde hair and a dark beard, he kind of looks like Zac Efron at parties, and I imagine how the role would be like if Pete Davidson was him. O’Brien adds a nice touch with the dialogue and appearance.
I’ve said that Zoey Deutch gave the worst performance of her career in “Vampire Academy,” and then gave some other lousy performances in the horrible “Dirty Grandpa” and the otherwise entertaining “Zombieland: Double Tap.” But I think it’s how the writers treat her like garbage. I’ve been listening to my mother say she prefers the word “woman” over “lady,” and I respect her opinion. Women can be smart, too, if only they don’t succumb to the prejudice and sexism.
But even with her downsides, Deutch still managed to shine with memorable performances in “Everybody Wants Some” and “The Outfit.” And in “Not Okay,” she delivers a good performance in the ways she merges as a loner and soon-to-be-pariah.
Judged on its own, I think this movie took my breath away with the consequences and sincerity, not the comedy. In fact, I was able to take these victims and this liar seriously. This is an impressive directorial debut for actress Quinn Shephard, who is 3 years younger than me, but still knows what she’s getting herself into.
Streaming on Hulu This Friday
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