A typical teenage Rom-Com, that perfectly captures the awkwardness of first love, a little predictable, but tries it’s hardest to break out of the mould.
Director: Alice Wu
Screenwriter: Alice Wu
Starring: Leah Lewis, Enrique Murciano, Becky Ann Baker
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by: Pearl
High School Senior Ellie Chu is paid by Jock Paul to write a love letter to his crush Aster. Strapped for cash as her father is struggling to find work, she reluctantly agrees to help him. The deal is fifty dollars for ONE letter. But things get a little out of hand when she finds herself arranging dates for them, helping him learn all about her and even impersonating him in text messages, all to impress her. What she doesn’t expect is for Paul to become her best friend, or for him to challenge what she thought she was capable of, or to fall in love with Aster as well.
On the surface this is a pretty bog standard teen Romantic Comedy, and even below the surface it never gets much deeper then that. This is publicised as a Rom Com, but for me, it is closer to a drama than a comedy, with the humour definitely taking a back seat to the dramatic happenings taking place in the story. Aster’s actual boyfriend Trig provides a great deal of the humour, outside of him, there isn’t a great deal more humour than you would find in a regular teen drama. So I guess that is why I liked it more than I thought I would as, if you have been around the block with me a few times, you will know that I am not really a fan of comedies.
Leading actress Leah Lewis gives a great performance as Ellie, bringing a lot of believable emotion to the role. The other characters in the story seem to almost be stereotypes of themselves, Paul being the typical dumb jock, Aster the misunderstood popular girl who just wants someone to understand her, etc. But although her role does kind of hinge on the stereotype of the super smart Asia kid that does everyone else’s homework and over achieves at everything, there is also a great deal of development for her character through out the story.
I do feel like at times the film relies to heavily on the above mentioned stereotypes, Uber Religious small town America, narrow views of homosexuality and a poor view of immigrants, being just a few I can mention of the top of my head. And Paul really seems to be the only person who grows out of these narrow minded ideas, where as the others mostly use them as tools for amusement.
Nothing in this story is revolutionary, and you will have read or seen a thousand stories just like it. It may not end the way that you expect, but it does telegraph it’s punches the entire way through, so I doubt that you will be all that surprise by the time the credits role.
‘The Half of It’ is a good gushy teen drama if that is what you are looking for to pass an afternoon during Quarantine. And is available to stream on Netflix UK Now!