Dude (2018)

It probably speaks more to me than it does to Dude that the thing I’ll remember most about the movie is that, in 2018, it drops a Leeroy Jenkins reference. The character who drops it is 17 or 18 years old, and that event happened in 2005. You do the math on that one. Is it possible that a high school senior would know about and have it near enough to the top of her head that she’d casually name-drop it? Maybe. Is it probable? I’m going to go with a “no” on that one.

That teenager is Lily (Lucy Hale), who is a top-of-the-class student, organizing the upcoming prom, and also likes to get high and party with her three best friends, Amelia (Alexandra Shipp), Rebecca (Awkwafina), and Chloe (Kathryn Prescott), the final of whom lost her brother a year earlier. I’ll be honest with you here: I had to look up the names of all the non-Lily characters. I could name their actors, but the characters are so poorly developed that there was no way I was going to remember any of their names.

Lily gets the only thing resembling an arc, which sees her be a controlling person who is freaking out about the end of high school and potentially losing her best friends to, well, you’ll see. Hint: it’s probably something close to the opposite of that. It’s still pretty thin, but at least there was an attempt. Her friends? They’re there to get upset when she gets too controlling and occasionally make things that I can only kindly call “jokes”—which might have worked if this were a sitcom and a laugh track could accompany them.

Dude couldn’t make it to network TV, though, as it’s too raunchy and profane. That’s one of its draws. It aims to be a female led Superbad-esque movie. The problems? Superbad isn’t especially great and hasn’t aged all that well. This one tackles a few different issues—it has a decent scene where the friends talk to two police officers about tampons—but ultimately doesn’t do much of consequence. And without many of the jokes hitting, and the characters being underdeveloped and kind of … not good (or interesting) people, really, it ultimately winds up being more of a test of patience than anything else.

The female angle does give Dude a bit of an edge when it comes to freshness. These types of movies almost always focus on the teenage boys, so changing that up is, at least on paper, a more interesting idea. Dude was written and directed by Olivia Milch, making her directorial debut. There’s a long-take scene near the end that is pretty stylish, and the actors are fine, so chances are she’ll be able to make a good movie in the future; the directorial talent appears to be there. She needs to write or be given stronger characters for this sort of film to work.

Dude is somewhat watchable movie following four teenage girls who encounter minor problems, party a lot, and treat each other and other people poorly. One of them gets something close to an arc. It has attempts at jokes, although most of them feel like they’re missing a laugh track. And, for reasons that are beyond me, it name-drops Leeroy Jenkins in 2018. That’s something I never thought I’d hear in a movie again. Let’s hope this is the last time.

Conclusion: Dude lacks the characters or humor to separate it from the pack of mediocre high school movies.

Recommendation: I can’t recommend watching Dude, but it’s on Netflix and therefore won’t cost you anything but time if you choose to watch it (assuming you have Netflix, of course).

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