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Sierra Burgess is a Loser review - not the charming romantic comedy we'd been expecting

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Verdict: If you have high hopes for this, you're probably going to be disappointed.

From To All The Boys I Loved Before to Set it Up, Netflix has been on a roll recently with its release of seriously great romantic comedies, restoring faith in a genre that we thought had long died out. 

When they announced the release of Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018) people could hardly contain their excitement. However, if you’re watching Sierra Burgess hoping to see Peter Kavinsky in another cute warm-hearted teen rom-com then you’re going to be bitterly disappointed.

Perhaps the biggest fault of Sierra Burgess is the casting of Noah Centineo. Centineo was catapulted into teen-heartthrob status after the release of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) less than a month ago. By having him as the leading man role in both films you’re opening them up to an instant comparison, and Sierra Burgess doesn’t even exist in the same stratosphere as To All The Boys. One is a masterclass in teen rom-com magic and the other is a problematic mess.

Directed by Ian Samuels, the premise of Sierra Burgess is essentially the story of ‘Catfishing’. Sierra Burgess (Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser) is unpopular, unattractive to her peers and a ‘loser’. After receiving a text from the mysterious Jamey (Noah Centineo) she assumes the identity of the popular girl, head cheerleader and all-around exhausted queen B stereotype Veronica (Kristine Froseth) in order to get with Jamey.

Jamey is a completely one dimensional character, we don’t even find out his last name at any point in the film. He is the ‘dreamy’ quarterback who happens to think that ‘real women have curves’ (an actual line from the film), who has no purpose to his character other than being an extension to Sierra’s fantasies. We learn almost nothing about him throughout the entire film, and apart from the ridiculous catfishing plot, he doesn’t add anything of interest to the narrative. 

The only redeeming part of Sierra Burgess is Veronica, and you know a film is bad when you end up rooting for the mean girl character. Veronica’s character development throughout the film is much more interesting than Sierra’s but in all honesty how many times have we seen the mean girl redemption story in films over the last 20 years?

Catfishing is a huge issue in today’s society and if you flipped the gender roles in Sierra Burgess it would most likely be marketed as a horror film and not a cheesy rom-com, but because Sierra is unpopular and a ‘loser’ we’re supposed to be accepting of her completely humiliating and betraying the trust of her friend and her potential love interest. 

Without including too many spoilers, it’s also worth noting that there are many problematic jokes and comments throughout the film in reference to the LGBT+ community, and Sierra actually pretends to have a disability at one point in the film. (Yes really.)

I’m all for suspending belief when it comes to romantic comedies, but the message of this film is totally wrong. If you catfish a boy and completely humiliate him in front of the entire school, he’s not going to turn up outside your house in a suit with a bunch of flowers, leaning on his car like something out of a John Hughes film before confessing his undying love for you. That’s not real life, that’s just ridiculous. 

Sierra Burgess is a Loser is out now on Netflix

 

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