‘Do Revenge’ review: A-grade high school comedy for ‘Clueless’ stans

Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke play scheming teens in the vein of Cher Horowitz

Move over Mean Girls, the class of ’22 has a new prom queen. You can bump off Heathers, She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You too as Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train gets a Gen Z makeover in the style of every classic high school comedy ever made.

If Do Revenge was made in the ’90s, it would already have a reboot, a West End musical and a range of loungewear in Primark. It knows it too. Made with bubblegum bite by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (writer on MTV’s Sweet/Vicious and Marvel’s Thor: Love And Thunder), the film takes its place in the cult yearbook with an ironic wink – dropping movie references as fast as it does one-liners.

If you haven’t seen Hitchcock’s thriller, it really doesn’t matter. Two people after revenge decide to swap victims and sort out each other’s problems to avoid the heat themselves, or, as this reboot puts it, it’s “a fucked-up TaskRabbit”. First up here is Drea (Camila Mendes from Riverdale), the perfect Ivy-bound prom queen who never has a problem with anyone until her “fake woke” of a boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams from Euphoria) leaks her sex tape to the entire school.

Do Revenge
Eleanor (Maya Hawke) and Drea (Camila Mendes). CREDIT: Netflix

Eleanor (Maya Hawke), on the other hand, has a lot more experience being a social outcast. Bullied in another school for being queer by Carissa (Ava Capri), she’s grown up uncomfortable in her own skin with an emotional support lizard as a best friend. Perfect, then, for a partner in crime for Drea, who agrees to take down her bully in exchange for help exposing Max.

Cue a makeover scene (“It’s so problematic… but it’s so much fun!”), a high-school clique montage, and a whole lot of other teen movie cliches that barely feel old anymore because they’re played with just the right amount of irony. As soon as Buffy The Vampire Slayer herself cameos as the headteacher (Sarah Michelle Gellar), it’s clear Robinson has her eye on the past as much as the present, and Do Revenge’s ability to keep a foot in both generations is its greatest, campest, sharpest strength.

Hole, Fatboy Slim and The Cranberries mix well with Olivia Rodrigo, ROSALÍA and Billie Eilish on the soundtrack (and Este Haim’s hazy synth score bridges the gap perfectly). The pink pastel palette Kaytin Robinson uses makes it look like 1992, but the script’s sharp edges keep it modern.

Do Revenge
Maya Hawke’s Eleanor and her reptilian pals. CREDIT: Netflix

Whatever else the film has to say about the horrors of high school, allyship is the real target here – from Max’s fake victim support scheme (founding the “CIS Hetero Men Championing Female Identifying Students League”) to the enemy-frenemy dual between Drea and Eleanor that grounds the snark in something real. Mendes and Hawke both do a great job of walking this line without tripping over into parody, but it’s the strength of Robinson’s script that earns the most credit.

Do Revenge might be standing on the shoulders of a lot of other high school heroes, but it’s more than tall enough on its own to be counted in the same class.

Details

  • Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
  • Starring: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams
  • Release date: September 16 (Netflix)
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