- “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” is the latest Netflix original teen rom-com and dropped Friday.
- It stars Shannon Purser, a.k.a. Barb from “Stranger Things.”
- It’s a charming little movie that focuses more on the female friendship than the romance, which is what makes it special.
On Friday, “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser,” yet another teen rom-com, became available on Netflix. And it stars Noah Centineo, the same male love interest as the streamer’s last rom-com hit, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”
“Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” is a sweet little movie that stands out among Netflix’s others for its bold decision to put its female characters first. It’s a movie about female friendship with a romance on the side.
The premise is not unusual, but the way it approaches it is. And it starts with the main character. Sierra Burgess, a teenage girl who is insecure about her talent and body, is played by Shannon Purser (a.k.a. Barb from “Stranger Things”) who Hollywood has conditioned people into thinking doesn’t belong in a leading role. Her nemesis, Veronica (Kristine Froseth), is a tiny, popular cheerleader.
At the beginning of the movie, Veronica, who bullies Sierra, gives Jamey (a gorgeous guy on the football team) Sierra’s number, pretending it’s her own. So Sierra pretends to be Veronica on the phone with Jamey. They hit it off. So Sierra doesn’t get caught, she makes a deal with Veronica: If she doesn’t say anything, she’ll help her study.
You probably think you know what goes on from there. And you know some of it. Jamey finds out, and there is a happy ending.
But what happens in between makes it a better movie. Sierra’s body is never used as a joke, as it might in other comedies starring a woman of her size. And Jamey, a sensitive football player, is not the focus of the story. He’s what brings Sierra and Veronica together. As Sierra sees what Veronica deals with at home, and Veronica sees how Sierra struggles with constant jabs simply because of her body, they become friends. I’m not condoning catfishing, because what they do to Jamey is wrong, but doing so helps Sierra and Veronica become aware of the insecurities that turned them against each other.
“Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” is its own deep movie with a new tone and purpose, but it’s still reminiscent of John Hughes movies, especially “Sixteen Candles.” So it makes sense that Alan Ruck – Cameron from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” – plays Sierra’s dad. Ruck will probably join the dads from “Eighth Grade” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” in the little group of 2018 movie dads the internet is obsessed with right now.
The movie also very realistically depicts something that will always relate to most people, no matter how technology changes: a long phone call with someone you like but are still getting to know. Purser and Centineo play off each other perfectly in these drawn out and intentionally awkward scenes, even though they’re not in the same room.
Confronting insecurities and becoming friends with your bully is quite dark. But RJ Cyler, who plays Sierra’s best friend, Dan, carries the comedy while letting Purser carry the movie.
“Sierra Burgess Is a Loser” is heavy on the darker themes, but its stars, especially Purser, give it lot of heart that will make you want to rewatch it instantly.
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