Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ross Lynch, Courtney Eaton, Olivia Holt, Harvey Guillen, Gregg Sulkin, Brec Bassinger, Maude Green, Markian Tarasiuk, Andrew Herr, Austin Obiajunwa, Vivian Full, Tyronne L'Hirondelle
Written by: Jason Filardi
Directed by: Scott Speer
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, language, and some teen partying
Running Time: 106
Date: 03/30/2018

Status Update (2018)

1 Star (out of 4)

The Errant App

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This teen comedy with a "be yourself" message is slickly artificial and plasticky, grinding painfully through some extremely well-worn plot mechanics, and essentially failing to follow its own message.

In Status Update, Kyle Moore (Ross Lynch) is forced to move from Huntington Beach to Connecticut, from a world of surfing to ice hockey, after his mother and father separate. At school, he befriends the nerdy Lonnie (Harvey Guillen) as well as singer Dani (Olivia Holt), but misses his dad and runs afoul of some bullies. A bearded man in a mysterious mall kiosk sells him a new phone, complete with a special app; whenever Kyle updates his status, it instantly comes true.

He uses it to join the music program so he can be with Dani, but in order to one-up the bullies, he also joins the hockey team. He becomes the star player, attracting the attention of the pretty but manipulative Charlotte (Courtney Eaton). Then, the night of the music performance is on the same night as the big game! To make matters worse, the phone breaks and the app becomes worthless. How will Kyle manage?

Status Update instantly smacks of an after-school special or other Z-grade fare with its amped-up performances and overwritten characters, as if everyone were puppy dogs starved for attention. Moreover, the movie insists on its characters looking and sounding like stereotypes: the main character has long, blonde "surfer-dude" hair, the nerdy best friend is overweight, and the gay character is a fashionista, while non-white characters exist only in the sidelines.

No one here resembles an actual human being that anyone might know or spend time with. The storyline is perhaps a century old, and updated with little flair or cleverness to the mobile age. The movie runs through all the familiar twists with as little effort as possible, including all the old "be careful what you wish for" tropes.

(When Kyle tries out for the hockey team, his magic post says that he "skated like an Olympic gold medalist." He proceeds to perform a figure-skating program in front of the team. This is arguably the best joke.) Perhaps the most difficult parts to get through, however, are the musical numbers! Too bad this movie can't be wished away.

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