Netflixable? “Heathers” meets “Strangers on a Train” — “Do Revenge”

Netflix has this teen rom-com thing down.

Joey King or Ava Michele or Anjelika Washington or Camila Mendes, the leading ladies may change. But the aspirational wealth-and-bling settings don’t.

The vocal fry sass, the best Hollywood dentistry money can buy and makeup that banishes freckles from memory, designer school uniforms accessorized to impress, the total absence of “rich” parents who are just mentioned as providers of affluence — cars, mansions for parties, “Ivies” for college — it’s a formula, bitches, and they’ve mastered it.

It all kind of comes home with “Do Revenge,” the most excessive Netflix teen romantic comedy of them all. The kids are coiffed and ready for the runway. The school is affluence itself. The cars are classic, the stakes are high(ish) and the thrills include drugs.

So let’s push the language envelope, too. The c-word makes its bow, and not just dropped by this or that random British accent in a South Florida private school setting.

“Do Revenge” is awash in excess, a “Mean Girls” married to a “Strangers on a Train” plot designed to bend towards “Heathers” until the little dears who filmed it lose their nerve.

It’s hip, quippy and quotable, a self-referential riff on “’90s teen rom-coms,” right down to the Le
Tigre, Harvey Danger, Third Eye Blind, Meredith Brooks, Fatboy Slim soundtrack.

“I’m sorry, ‘Schoolhouse Rock.’ Are you dragging my SENTENCE structure?”

That no one involved recognized when enough is enough, not only losing their nerve to go straight to the edge, but not knowing when to wrap it all up, is its own college transcript tragedy. The film is flip and fun right up to the moment it tries to outsmart itself.

Camila Mendes trots out her “Riverdale” fangs out one more time as Drea, super-cute, super-popular and totally together queen of Rosehill School. She dates the popular, politically-connected rich boy Max (Austin Abrams), hangs with “The Royal Court” of entitled beauties and has Yale in the bag.

Not bad for a scholarship girl whose never-seen mom is a nurse.

But one leaked sex video later and it all comes crashing down. Slapping that ass Max for letting or making it happen makes “him” the victim, at least to the school’s lady head master (teen queen Hall of Famer Sarah Michelle Gellar). Drea is on probation and is shunned for her entire pre-senior-year summer.

Then “the new girl” shows up. Eleanor (Maya Hawke, Uma and Ethan’s kid) is gender fluid, into her dad’s classic car collection and forced to come to a new school where her own gay tormentor resides.

One or two complaining conversations later, it’s resolved. They will “do each other’s revenge,” like in that Hitchcock movie nobody references, the one about the strangers and the train.

Reputations will be savaged, hypocrisy exposed, an aspiring chef’s menu will be mushroomed.

And Max? He can found the “Cis Hetero Men Champion Identifying Female Students League” if he wants. He’s still got a bullseye on his “carefully curated image.”

Jokes like that fake organization don’t quite land, but a lot of the zingers do. Eleanor feels “like Billie Jean King in a sea of Maria Sharapovas.”

Ever since the Golden Age of John Hughes, “Sixteen Candles” through “Pretty in Pink,” teen movies have been instantly, adorably dated because no matter how current a filmmaker like director and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson makes the dialogue, it’s her “’90s kid” tastes that adorn her movie.

Sure, play a little Billie Eilish, maybe her most f-bombed song, just to establish your campus cred, but that soundtrack is not what 2020s kids are jamming to. Reference “’90s teen rom-coms” as you “tour” the campus.Here are our “Instagram Bitches,” over there is the environmental “Greta Thunberg Brigade,” “Horny Theatre Kids, etc.”

But as each new friend undertakes to “destroy” the other’s nemesis, “Do Revenge” grinds its gears. There’s a solid 90 minutes of fun movie here, 100 tops. And this thing just goes on and on, that “Neflix editing” that doesn’t take into account how quickly-paced screen teen rom-coms need to be.

Mendes projects confidence and charisma, but it might be that “Veronica” on “Riverdale” will be a hard acting habit to break. She never gives us that beautiful-but-vulnerable Vanessa Hudgens side, not convincingly anyway. Hawke has become the Nepo Baby poster child and “Do Revenge” feels like the movie that inspired that whole Hollywood trend story and its offshoots, thanks to her lack of presence and middling performance.

The ’80s comedies that inspired the ’90s ones and gave birth to the current crop found a little heart and delivered at least one adult to “talk some sense” into kids teetering onto the wrong path — “revenge,” for instance.

And the kids weren’t all vapid consumerists aspiring to Kardashianhood. Back then, such girls were always Ms. Perfect Rachel McAdams, and the rich future frat-bros were often played by James Spader, typecast as a blond bastard for a reason. There’s barely a hint of Drea’s disadvantaged status here. She’s “thrift shopping,” the mean girls all say. We never see it, or evidence of it. Her hair style costs more than that late model Mitsubishi Evo she’s driving.

But “Do Revenge” is worth doing for a bit, anyway. Feel free to drift over to the lower right of your Netflix screen and change the speed to 1.25 times “normal” after about the midpoint. This thing drags.

Rating: R, mild violence, drugs, sexual content, profanity

Cast: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, Rish Shah, Talia Ryder and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Credits: Directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, scripted by Celeste Ballard, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. A Netflix release.

Running time: 2:02

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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