Not Okay is a hilarious, accurate and powerful exploration into social media, cancel culture and gun crime, that balances its tones well and showcases tremendous performances.
Written by Becca Johnson / August 5, 2022
Zoey Deutch (Zombieland: Double Tap), Dylan O'Brien (The Maze Runner) and Mia Isaac (Don't Make Me Go) star in Disney+/Hulu's new social satire. When wannabe influencer Danni fakes a trip to Paris to gain more of a social media following, a small white lie turns into something bigger than she ever could've imagined when Paris is hit by awful terrorist attacks where she is supposedly hanging out. Not Okay is a hilarious, accurate and powerful exploration into social media, cancel culture and gun crime, that balances its tones well and showcases tremendous performances.
Zoey Deutch delivers in every role, having become a firm favourite amongst film fans and average movie goers in recent years. Not Okay is no exception; she is a star. Her character is far from likeable, which the movie laughably pre-warns us during the title cards, but her acting is captivating regardless. Dylan O'Brien plays Colin, influencer and heart throb for our lead character, extremely well. Colin may be the most satirical character of them all, yet O'Brien somehow makes him believable and effortless; it's a different role for him, and it works. However, stealing the show and every scene she's in is Mia Isaac. This is only her second role after appearing in Don't Make Me Go alongside John Cho last month, and her work is already phenomenal and promising. She plays school shooting survivor Rowan Aldren with ease, adding heart, soul and emotion to the movie. Her chemistry with Deutch was second to none; the casting was perfect.
Not Okay is a movie that has a lot to say, and comments on many trending topics as the runtime progresses. Luckily, it never feels preachy, overbearing or overstuffed. It's satire works well; it's genuinely funny, pretty accurate and feels naturally 'woke' rather than feeling like it's trying too hard to appeal to a younger audience like many others before it. It's commentary on the social media age is both interesting and relevant, hopefully seeming relatable for many. At the same time, it's more emotional moments are just as successful. It provides an interesting discussion not only on gun crime in the US and how the Government should be stepping up, but also on how the voices of marginalised people can be drowned out by those less real and authentic. Every minute of its runtime is put to good use, whether it's making us laugh, cry or both.
Performances and plot aside, the technical aspects we look for are all present. Not Okay looks great, with vibrant colours, killer outfits and eye catching cinematography. It's soundtrack is not only cool and current but matches the tone of the movie effortlessly, featuring the likes of Avril Lavigne, Blackbear and The Pom-Poms. The writing and direction from Quinn Shephard prove she is one to keep an eye on, as a fresh and unique idea is put forward and rarely falters. The pacing is terrific; it's never boring, always entertaining. Shephard brings the best out of the script, actors and visuals, every aspect coming together harmoniously to create a very cohesive and thought-provoking modern comedy.
There are times when Not Okay feels a little stereotypical and cliché, but mostly it manages to keep from feeling too over the top, bar one or two scenes, despite its satirical nature. Many won't gel with it due to it's lack of subtlety and nuance; it's very on the nose and puts its message across in a strong manner. It's a slight shame that we didn't get to explore Isaac's character Rowan a little more and instead were forced to concentrate on the unlikeable, over-privileged lead, but that goes hand-in-hand with what the movie is attempting to say. The correct audience will enjoy the comedy and discourse that Not Okay has to offer, and every audience member will appreciate the exceptional performances and direction on display here. It's one of this years shining stars, and luckily its widely accessible.