I usually don’t have high hopes when it comes Netflix’s original films. While the Internet’s premier streaming service has produced a slew of fabulous television shows, their movies leave a bit to desire for me personally. Alex Strangelove has changed the game for my relationship with Netflix with a charming story, good script and some great comedy reminiscent of the great high school movies of the past.
Alex Strangelove, directed by Craig Johnson, follows well-rounded high school senior Alex Truelove (yes, that’s his real last name) who has a great girlfriend and a very promising future, but hopes to seal the deal with his significant other before leaving high school. His world gets turned upside down when he meets Elliot, an openly gay kid from another school who sends Alex on a rollercoaster of emotions that causes him to question everything.
The comedy here is reminiscent of Mean Girls with a touch of Superbad. Those are huge compliments from me considering that those are two of my favorite comedies ever.
It also has classic John Hughes elements, just like Love, Simon earlier this year. I mean this film even ends with a prom. It doesn’t get more John Hughes than that.
While there are a few themes about masculinity that I didn’t care to see entertained as valid, the biggest issue in the whole film was the character of Elliot. He’s really only there to spark Alex’s questioning of his sexuality before falling off the map for almost all of the rest of the film. I feel like he should have been fleshed out a little more so that their relationship could seem more realistic and audiences could get more invested.
The most impressive thing here is Daniel Doheny himself, who plays Alex. He’s a naive yet caring protagonist with a charm that can only be described as magnetic. He also has great chemistry with Madeline Weinstein, who plays his girlfriend Claire. I’ve never seen Doheny in anything else, but I hope this gets to be the start of a long career for him.
In conclusion, Alex Strangelove is a goofy and fun time that will remind you a lot of your own high school atmosphere, especially if you recently graduated. It’s got a strong, charismatic script with mostly good characters and great music. The subject matter seems so relevant and strong in today’s society and it’s nice to have another happy ending for this style of film again this year.
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