Fish and Cherries Productions

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Reel Snippet – Sierra Burgess Is a Loser

Summary: High school isn’t easy, especially when you’re Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser), who doesn’t have looks or popularity. Case in point, when Jamey (Noah Centineo), the quarterback from a rival school, hits on the alpha cheerleader Veronica (Kristine Froseth), she gives him Sierra’s number instead as a cruel joke. However, Sierra and Jamey find out they click extremely well and even though it means pretending to be someone else, she keeps up the charade because this is the closest someone has come to liking her. She approaches Veronica with a deal: Sierra will tutor Veronica to help her get in the good graces of a cute college boy (Will Peltz) if Veronica helps sell the illusion to Jamey. While everyone’s relationships are developing, so are the lies, and it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down.

Review: Sierra Burgess Is a Loser is a surprisingly sweet movie, though it can get a little uncomfortable at times. The movie is a modernized adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, with Sierra standing in for the titular Cyrano and Jamey acting as the film’s Roxane. Obviously there are some major differences — Sierra and Jamey aren’t distant cousins, natch, and the closest we get to a war in this movie is a football game. Still, it’s close enough to make everyone who covered this in high school English class (which I did not) feel clever.

The movie’s greatest asset is its cast and characters, who are all insanely layered and have incredible depth. The quarterback has a deaf brother, the alpha queer is practically abused at home — it all works together so well that it feels real. The actors are all very talented and a who’s who of familiar faces (at least for me). Our leading lady is Barb from Stranger Things, her best friend is played by RJ Cyler who played Billy in the recent Power Rangers movie, and Veronica’s problematic mom is played by Chrissy Metz from This Is Us, which is quite the contrast as her character over there was very sensitive about her weight while her character here practically fat-shames her own daughter. Of course, the best character in the entire movie is the English teacher played by Loretta Devine because, really, everyone should have her as a teacher. She’s just that awesome.

However, I should really address the elephant in the room — that cumbersome, catfish-shaped elephant. For how sweet everything is, there’s no getting around the fact that every bit of the connection Sierra and Jamey build together is done under false pretenses. It makes the whole thing very uncomfortable and could sour some people to the whole movie (it certainly did for some critics). It’s hard not to feel bad for Sierra, but stuff like this has been done to people in real life with far fewer innocent desires behind it. Honestly, the real relationship worth exploring was the one between Sierra and Veronica, as it is far more touching and turns the character who looked unlikable at first into one of the most sympathetic characters.

When all is said and done, I have more good memories of this movie than uncomfortable ones. It especially evoked a powerful emotional reaction from me when a guidance counselor told Sierra, who was applying to Stanford, that straight-A’s weren’t enough and that she had to be spectacular as well. It breaks my heart because that seems to sum up the environment so many of the youth are growing up in and it’s absolutely unfair. That’s why, for all it’s flaws, I appreciate Sierra Burgess Is a Loser — it gives voice to a generation desperately crying out for their frustration to be heard.

Fun Tidbit: This is the second teen romance film on Netflix where Noah Centineo played the male lead, the other being To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Is this guy going to start being a regular on Reel Snippets?

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