Honor Society is charming, hilarious and clever, with a fresh plot that provides a new take on the genre.
Written by Becca Johnson / August 3, 2022
Honor Society, Paramount+'s new venture, is a teen comedy drama centring on Honor (Angourie Rice), an ambitious high school senior who will do what it takes to get to Harvard. She comes up with an elaborate scheme to take down her three competitors, but things go awry when she develops feelings for one of them. Though it seems like a cliché, predictable teen dramedy, Honor Society is much the opposite. It's charming, hilarious and clever, with a fresh plot that provides a new take on the genre.
Paramount+ isn't renowned for showcasing the best of new releases, and Honor Society doesn't have the most promising plot so it's understandable why many are skipping out on this one. However, it's an utter blast from start to finish. It has a large focus on comedy, with fourth wall breaks aplenty; the laughs mostly land and they manage to charm at the same time. The dramatic elements are well executed when they occur, the script even throws a plot twist in there that's difficult to see coming. It's incredibly cleverly written, not just in it's comedy but in how relevant it feels. The teen dialogue is actually believable, and the subplots thrown in feel like they belong rather than just being included because they're current. It explores pressures of school/exams, tough parenting, bullying and the difficulty of coming out to loved ones without feeling preachy or depressing. It keeps the tone light whilst feeling subtly powerful.
The main reason the script works so well is due to Angourie Rice's exceptional line delivery. The role of an over achieving high schooler isn't exactly new to Rice, who has showcased talent in this field with Watt's Spider-Man movies and Netflix's recent comedy Senior Year, but this is one of her strongest performances to date. She is incredibly magnetic from start to finish, her fourth wall breaks are welcomed rather than annoying, and it's made incredibly easy to root for her character even when she is plotting against her peers. Working opposite her is Gaten Matarazzo, who also gives a believable and confident performance. It's refreshing to see him star in something outside of Stranger Things, and he delivers. It may make viewers feel like they've aged when they see Christopher Mintz-Plasse step into the role of guidance counsellor rather than student, but he's fun nonetheless. However, don't be fooled, this is Angourie Rice's movie.
Besides its fresh, cheeky plot and stellar performances, what makes Honor Society stand out amongst other teen dramedies is that it seems to care about its technical elements. It's shot nicely, with an essence of formality and sophistication that is pleasing on the eye. Whether it's Rice's polished outfits or the way characters faces are framed in the shot, the movie has a precise and tidy feel to it that really works. This stylisation follows through into the editing; it's paced beautifully, each and every scene either adding to the wider plot or providing something enjoyable.
Honor Society may tie everything up with an all too convenient and neat bow by the end, and by no means is it groundbreaking cinema. It borrows plot points and themes that we've definitely seen versions of before, but that doesn't mean it's not worth your time. It's not only hilarious and expertly acted but it's charming, fast paced and fresh, it's fourth wall breaks and bittersweet characters adding something unique and rather special to the genre. Rice is such a star, the whole cast deliver, and if you're looking for a smart and sweet summer watch, Honor Society is your best shot.