Meshuga for Movies: Do Revenge

Do Revenge review

Tired of rewatching the same old chick flicks and cult classics that defined your entire childhood and makes your summer camp campers roll their eyes at you? (Is this just me? Okay…) Your delicate old-person-heart can’t take it anymore that that super cool movie starring Linday Lohan and Rachel McAdams is actually old enough to vote? Is this making me sound old? I’m talking about Mean Girls, okay?! Looking to rewatch Heathers, but are now realizing that the gay and bulimia jokes actually are “so ‘87, Heather?”

Look no further, Netflix may have actually succeeded in creating a timeless classic, the ‘90s chick flick of 2022, with its film Do Revenge. And look, I’m not the only one who feels this way — Amy Nicholson of The New York Times described Do Revenge as a “a playful, sharp-fanged satire that feels like the ’90s teen comedy hammered into modern emojis: crown, knife, fire, winky face.”

She gets it. 

Do Revenge opens with Drea, played by Camila Mendes of Riverdale fame, at a party honoring her success as a Vogue social influencer or something. She has beautiful friends, a dotting boyfriend, and a terrible, massive secret: she goes to their posh private high school, Rosehill, on scholarship! If anyone knew she would be a complete social outcast! This would be disastrous! Anyway… Since she is so beautiful and successful, a lot of people also secretly hate her and pray for her downfall — remember this — this is important. 

After the party, Drea is getting it on with boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams, who plays a much nicer character in Euphoria) and he exhibits the classic red flag behavior. I’m paraphrasing here, but he basically says: “Drea, I love you. Drea I’m gonna miss you so much this summer. OMG Drea, you should make a video for me so I won’t be lonely. *winky face* *eggplant emoji*”

Like, okay, bestie Max, porn exists for a reason.. Anyway, Drea of course makes the video, it gets leaked (Max is like: “OMG baby I have no idea how this happened”), Drea punches him in the face, women get blamed for everything so he gets off scot-free, and she becomes a social outcast. 

Drea works at a tennis summer camp where she meets Eleanor (Maya Hawke of Stranger Things and a shockingly talented actress despite her famous parents and nepotism). Eleanor shares a story of how years ago Carissa, a student at Rosehill, outed Eleanor as lesbian and ruined her life. They hatch a flawless plan: Eleanor who is transferring to Rosehill, will infiltrate Drea’s old friend group and ruin Max’s life, and Drea will ruin Carissa’s. In other words, they will do revenge. 

Yeah, maybe this makes me a basic bitch, but I really enjoyed this movie. For starters, it’s pleasing to the eyes to watch. I don’t know what school’s uniform would actually be jaunty little hats, pastel purple, and mint green pleated skirts — and visually engaging little ties and vests — but I did like how it looked! In an overt way, by staying away from modern trends and overwhelming colors, the movie establishes a commitment to timelessness.

Also, the soundtrack is bop after bop after bop. This movie is not your parents’ teen flick. It contains a wonderful balance of era-defying modern hits including songs by Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, MUNA, and Hayley Kiyoko. No song felt out of place or pandering, and the choices and fragments utilized really enhanced the film for me. Also, Do Revenge has a refreshing balance of using time-accurate tech without technology being the only contributing factor in the plot. This isn’t always easy to accomplish, but Do Revenge passes with flying colors. 

Do Revenge manages to be earnest and dramatic, without being over-indulgent. There is a bit of a self-aware and self-deprecating tone that is maintained throughout without it over taking away from the film’s self-belief. I know that the chick flick is often seen as a simple pursuit, but there is a careful balance required to make a good chick flick and not just another Kissing Booth (sorry not sorry Kissing Booth fans) and Do Revenge does it right. One quote that I think encompasses this is Eleanor in true dramatic teenage fashion midway through the formation of a revenge plan with Drea goes: “Is Do Revenge even, like, correct grammar?”

I don’t know either, but it does make for a good movie title. 

Austin Abrams is the Jewish actor of 2022. He has been in hit after hit after hit from Papertowns to Euphoria to Do Revenge — it seems that he simply cannot miss. While I couldn’t find much beyond that about his upbringing (did he have a Bar Mitzvah?? Go to camp??) he did act in the 2012 comedy film Jewtopia as Young Adam Lipschitz so it doesn’t get much more Jewish than that. 

This is not all! The music was written by Este Haim, who you may recognize from the band Haim. Haim is our favorite Jewish rock band (disclaimer for all the other ones we like) and Este was raised by an Israeli father. 

My last observation is a bit in jest, but vital to Eleanor’s character is that she got a nose job prior to when the film takes place. Is there much else applicable to the Jewish experience than the social pressures of getting a nose job? I question if I should get one at least once a week. 

Review By the Numbers:

Humor: 8/10

If you let yourself enjoy  the absurdity of this  film, this movie is hilarious. Just take a look at some of these quotes:

  • “I’m sorry, Schoolhouse Rock! Are you dragging my sentence structure right now?”
  • “You called me a human Birkenstock!”
  • “Do you like this balloon? I was deciding between this and Elsa, but I kind of thought you weren’t an Elsa person. Although, you are a frigid b*tch.”

I mean, I was cracking up! It’s not easy to master Gen Z humor, and I think Do Revenge really managed to capture it. I mean, who knows, one of these lines may be the next “Stop trying to make fetch happen.” 

Acting: 7/10

When I watch a Netflix film, I don’t always have the best expectations for the actors. Maybe that’s just me. But I was pleasantly surprised by the prowess of stars Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, and Austin Abrams. This film also featured powerhouse Sarah Michelle Geller. The only reason I couldn’t put this score higher is because, well, it’s no Schindler’s List, you know?

Storyline: 6/10

According to Wikipedia this film is based on Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. I didn’t necessarily catch that, but Do Revenge gets an A for effort. Otherwise, the storyline felt fresh without resorting too often to old tropes and tired clichés. I felt that when it did, it was satirically or to being light to these tropes with a new perspective. 

Jewishness: 3/10

Max is a dick. He is rich, manipulative, and media-controlling. He lacks all empathy and earns no sympathy. He is toxic. He also prominently wears a Jewish star necklace in multiple scenes of the movie. Is this Jewish representation and proof that not all Jewish boys are nice Jewish boys (Jews can be toxic too, Mom) or more likely did Do Revenge resort to old age stereotypes to help them craft their antagonist? This movie get a a low score for Jewishness because all this wondering if it was antisemitic gave me a horrible belly ache. 

Emotions: 3/10

I laughed. I was a little confused. I did gasp at one point. Yet, this was not an emotional film. If you’re looking for emotions go watch Marley and Me or something. 

The Soundtrack: 9/10

Estie Haim and hit after hit of my favorite modern-day early-2000s-sounding songs? Absolutely zero complaints from me. I’ve been listening to the Do Revenge playlist constantly since watching. 

How Badly It Made Me Want to Bleach My Hair: 10/10

Maya Hawke looks so good with blonde hair! I could do it too. Shut up, I can. I’m gonna actually do it this time. Alexa play Blonde by Maisie Peters. 

Overall: 6.5

I wish this movie earned a higher score because I really did love it, like telling my roommate to watch it and reading about it on Reddit, writing a glowing blog post loved it. I’m no math expert, but the poor Jewish representation definitely hurt that average.  Come on Netflix, it’s 2022 — we can do better than that. I don’t want to have to worry about the cultural impacts of your film contributing to a global rise in antisemitism during my leisurely chick flick watching. I just don’t.

I say, check this out but with a critical eye, and maybe write a review afterward to show that this doesn’t go unnoticed. Do what you must, but remember: “Don’t let the patriarchy hit you on the way out.”