The Outcasts

2017-06-30 09:36

What it's about:

After falling victim to a humiliating prank by the high school queen bee, Jodi (Victoria Justice) and her best friend Mindy (Eden Sher) plot their revenge by uniting all of the school"s outcasts to overthrow the cruel reign of the popular clique once and for all. But in a tale of "be careful what you wish for," a taste of power gets the best of all of them, nearly ruining Jodi and Mindy's friendship and threatening to sabotage Jodi's budding romance with Dave (Avan Jogia).

What we thought:

South African cinema again finds itself subjected to releases of movies that have gone straight to Video-On-Demand, but this one seems like it actually warrants a cinematic release. The Outcasts at first appears to have come from a Disney script that never made it to production, but it delivered an endearing cast and a plot that doesn’t feel like it came straight from a teenager’s secret fantasy.

Victoria Justice (from Nickelodeon’s Victorious) and Eden Sher (The Middle) were quite the comedic duo as they take on the popular kids by changing the idea of what’s ‘popular’, and the filmmakers made an effort to fight high school movie clichés and delivered a watchable film that I can recommend to South Africa’s teenagers.

Mindy (Sher) and Jodi (Justice) have been best friends through most of their school lives, and as they head into their final year of high school, they attempt to make peace with their popular bully Whitney (Claudia Lee) which leads to a vicious prank. They decide to unite the school’s outcasts so that they can change the status quo.

The Outcasts isn’t on the level of classics like Mean Girls or Clueless, but is still quite a fun movie and doesn’t make you cringe at some filmmaker’s attempt to relate to teenagers. Surprisingly, this movie was shot in 2014 and took three years to even be released on VOD, but doesn’t feel outdated. They cover every type of high school outcast you can think of – from sci-fi and fantasy nerd to tech nerd to weird girl scout to loud anarchist – and our two main outcasts are a happy mix of them all. Not only does the movie cover the usual ‘popular kids vs the weirdos’ storyline (with a few alterations) but it also highlights the anxiety of getting into a college and what the future holds for the friendships you have now. It’s a scary part of life, and The Outcasts highlight it in a reasonably realistic way.

It does not mean The Outcasts is a wholly realistic movie. It’s full of over-the-top parties, truth serums, exposés broadcast on school TVs and hormonal love shenanigans. It does not however redeem the mean girl at the end and the way that they take over from the popular kids is a refreshing take that actually could work if this was a real-world problem that actually exists in South African schools (can’t say for sure American schools are really like this). My school life was pleasant to a degree but I might have just been in a school that was the exception when it came to antagonism between cliques.

The Outcasts is a pleasant high school film that won’t make you cringe or break out randomly in Disney songs. There are some surprisingly mature jokes (aka penis jokes) so it’s not completely PG-rated, and the cast can actually put on a decent performance that doesn’t make you question the sanity of the director. The Outcasts is a straight-to-DVD movie that actually deserved a cinematic release.

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