Dude (2018)

Director: Olivia Milch
Writer: Olivia Milch, Kendall McKinnon
Cast: Lucy Hale, Kathryn Prescott, Alexandra Shipp, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Brooke Smith, Jerry MacKinnon, Ronen Rubinstein, Satya Bhabha, Austin Butler, Jack McBrayer
Seen on: 2.4.2020

Content Note: rape

Chloe (Kathryn Prescott), Lily (Lucy Hale), Amelia (Alexandra Shipp) and Rebecca (Awkwafina) are best friends and have been all throughout high school. They spend most of their time just hanging out and smoking weed, but with the end of high school approaching, they also have to face the fact that things will change. Lily does everything she can to first organize the perfect prom and secondly, that all changes after that go according to her plans. But life has a way of going differently than you think and that’s not really easy.

Dude is a coming-of-age stoner comedy which is already in itself an unusual combination, made more unusual still by the fact that it’s about young women. It is entertaining and well made, but I didn’t completely love it.

The film poster showing Chloe (Kathryn Prescott), Lily (Lucy Hale),  Amelia (Alexandra Shipp) and Rebecca (Awkwafina) hugging each other.

I love films that center relationships between women (in any way, really), but I don’t love stoner comedies – they are really not my cup of tea. So I was torn about whether I wanted to see this, but ultimately, my love for Lucy Hale won out and I gave the film a try. And while the girls do smoke a lot in this film, and there are some stoner-jokes, this is not your typical stoner comedy. The film allows itself to be heavier and filled with emotional content. The weed really takes a back seat here, which for me is a good thing. Still, there is a lot of smoking (also cigarettes) and that in itself did bother me, I have to admit – it just goes to show how much I’m used to the absence of cigarettes in film.

Anyway, the real story here is the transition out of high school and what that might mean for the four girls and their friendship with each other. It was nice that the group wasn’t entirely white, but it is unfortunate that the focus centered on the two white girls in the group regardless. Not that Prescott and Hale didn’t do a good job, but still – it’s a familiar dynamic that sidelines people of color.

Lily (Lucy Hale) lying on a bench.

Hale carries most of the film and she carries it very well, though the script doesn’t always let her. There is a rape scene in the middle of the film that shows a very non-chalant rape (as a lot of rapes are) and Hale perfectly captures the impact this has on Lily. But after a quick comment later that downgrades the rape to a guy being “goal-oriented”, the movie seems to believe Lily’s own protestations that everything is fine and it just gave the entire thing a very weird taste.

Still, the film is nice enough, even if you, like me, are not much into stoner humor. But I can’t help but think that the time the film spends with weed could have been put to better use.

Rebecca (Awkwafina), Lily (Lucy Hale), Amelia (Alexandra Shipp) and Chloe (Kathryn Prescott) looking down into the camera.

Summarizing: okay, if you want something fun with a heavy side to it.

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