PLOT: An ambitious young woman finds followers and fame when she poses as the survivor of a deadly attack, but she soon learns that online notoriety comes with a terrible price.
REVIEW: The idea of someone taking a tragedy and benefiting from it for social media clout feels very relevant for 2022. Then addto the mix, and my expectations were pretty high for Not Okay. Unfortunately, the subject matter isn’t treated with much respect, and the characters are about as barren of personality as possible. Every single person just serves the story’s preachy message, with very little dimension. And that’s a significant problem to overcome.
I always struggle with films that are barren of likable characters and Not Okay is pretty rough in that regard. We know from the jump that our lead, Danni (Zoey Deutch), is a downright terrible person. She has faked being at a terrorist bombing location and keeps burying herself deeper in the lie. The film literally starts with a montage of all these people talking crap about her. So the fact that we know she gets busted, takes any tension out of the entire rest of the film. It’s simply a waiting game versus actually questioning whether she’ll actually receive her comeuppance. It feels like such a colossal misstep. Deutch continues to be one of the best young actresses out there, but she doesn’t really get to show it here. Her character is mostly very shallow and her character arc doesn’t feel earned.
Dylan O’Brien plays a Pete Davidson-type, who clearly cares more about getting high and his social media presence than anything important. He provides some of the only laughs of the whole movie even then, his character is an absolute douchebag. Having also just starred in the recently released Don’t Make Me Go alongside John Cho (Check out our review HERE), I had big expectations for young star Mia Isaac. Which is maybe why I was so disappointed. While the character should be a standout here, her scenes mostly just come across as very hokey. She feels more like a point the filmmakers are trying to make rather than an actual human being. And her inclusion almost feels like a slap in the face of those who have actually suffered from these tragedies, treating them like their terrible tragedy is the only thing that defines them.
It also tries to bring up the whole “video games create gun violence” argument and made me have to check and make sure I wasn’t in 1999 again. This really exemplifies the kind of points the movie is trying to make. While I am aware of her acting work, this is my first time watching a film from Quinn Shepard. She both wrote and directed Not Okay, which is a commendable feat for any 27-year-old. But a little bit of experience would have served this story much better because it seems to be more about “Gotcha” moments versus actually teaching its characters lessons.
Not Okay puts influencer culture in its crosshair, and makes some good points, but ultimately doesn’t have much depth. Spending an entire film with an influencer is about as close to hell on earth as I can imagine. The subject matter is very intense, but is almost looked at through a soft bubblegum lens. The points it tries to make come across as very juvenile, which is too bad given the serious subject matter. True satire would have probably served the story better, but as is, it just lacks any real punch.
Not Okay is STREAMING ON HULU JULY 29TH.