Brett Blackmore (Eli Brown) is a high school senior whose academic resume is spotless. Much like the ladies in the much better film Booksmart, Brett has spent his high school career studying and achieving but never really socializing or experimenting. He hasn’t had the time to stop and consider this lack of balance until the senior class prank goes wrong. Very, very wrong. And Brett, who was there but barely involved, falls on his sword and ends up taking the blame. His parents, who threw themselves a party to celebrate his acceptance to 7 out of 8 Ivies (Harvard merely wait-listed him), watch his brilliant future get yanked away as one by one, every one of those 7 Ivies back out of their offers. Brett is despondent, but this bleak turn of events does have him reflecting on whether this was the path he’d want for himself anyway.
Spending time with childhood crush Kayla (Madison Iseman), Brett feels empowered to send his friends a ranting video where he proposes a F**k-It List, a list of all the things he wishes he’d done but never had the courage. Item #1 is of course to kiss Kayla, and having done that, his blood is coursing with teenage hormones and adrenaline, he’s both free-falling and emboldened, and ready for whatever comes next. Except for what actually comes next, which is that his video goes viral, and instead of heading off for Yale, he’s instead become the most Gen Z of all things: an Influencer.
This movie believes that it’s putting the educational-industrial complex on trial. It also believes that it’s about an obedient teenager gone wild. Really, the movie is about Brett’s parents, Jeffrey (Jerry O’Connell) and Kristen (Natalie Zea), or it should have been anyway. They’re the ones who have bought into this machine, they’re the dictator parents who have structured their kid’s whole childhood around building the ultimate college application and then taking all the credit when their son actually succeeds despite this enormous pressure. A better script might have seen that, but then again, a better script may not have constantly confused the F**k-It List, which it both invented and defined, with the Bucket List, which is in fact a whole other thing. And better writers (not to mention better human beings) might have seen that Brett is neither a victim nor a hero – he’s a perfect and rather blatant example of privilege, and the only person who accidentally calls him on it is love interest Kayla who intends to pay for college by modelling her way through Europe (which turns out to be a euphemism for sex trafficking).
This kid’s “problem” is that his parents’ money and his cushy lifestyle have netted him literally every advantage in the world and now he wants to reject it, with no apparent irony or self-awareness, while continuing to spend their money unapologetically, and whining about it every step of the way – which only makes him more rich and more popular. It’s actually a super sad commentary on how toxic youth culture has become, and an even sadder example of how out-of-touch the rich white man (I’m guessing) directing this film is to not even realize it.
Every character in this movie is a bland personification of plain, fat-free yogurt; not one of them the least bit interesting or distinctive, so they’re absolutely painful to watch. Luckily, actual young people have never been half as dumb as Boomers make them out to be, and I bet most will be sharp enough to stay clear of this.