Despite the trailer’s claims, The Edge of Seventeen is no Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 10 Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, Clueless or Juno. (Election, the teen movie with which it seems to share the most DNA, is conspicuously left off the list of inspirations.) Byrd (Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld) is an awkward 17-year-old whose only friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson from the underrated, raunchy Olympic comedy The Bronze), has recently begun dating Nadine’s perfect, hated older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner). With a flighty mom (Kyra Sedgwick) and a sketchy crush, Nadine can only turn to her crabby history teacher (Woody Harrelson) and classmate Erwin Kim (Hayden Szeto), who is crushing on her pretty hard.
The situations blithely melt from sad to funny to uncomfortable with a uniform tone cribbed straight from the Diablo Cody book of screenwriting—not a bad thing, as Juno was terrific. That movie’s cast was a large reason why, a trait shared by The Edge of Seventeen. Steinfeld, Harrelson, Sedgwick and the lesser-known actors, of which Szeto is the standout, more than make up for how unlikable Nadine can be.
In her feature debut, writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig does not do a lot wrong, but this teen dramedy is not the second coming of John Hughes. However, it is hard to feel bad afterwards.
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