Crush REVIEW – Not Very Crush Worthy

The two leads are lovely, the rest of the movie not so much.


If you’ve ever had a crush on someone, you’ll know exactly how Paige (Rowan Blanchard) feels. She’s had a crush on Gabby (Isabella Ferreira) for as long as she can remember, but Gabby’s fun and popular, while Paige is kind of awkward and doesn’t make waves at school. This all changes when Paige gets called into the Principal’s office. Everyone thinks she’s King Pun, a mysterious individual who’s been doing graffiti art on the school walls. Paige can’t afford to get suspended, since she has dreams of making it into CalArts. So the Principal offers her a deal: find out who it is so she doesn’t have to take the fall for it. Oh, and she also has to join the track team.

Even though Paige agrees to the track team so that she can spend more time with Gabby, it’s Gabby’s sister A.J (Auli’i Cravalho) that’s getting most of her attention. The pair hit it off at a party while sleuthing for King Pun, and as they spend more time together, sparks begin to fly between them. The movie’s strongest aspect is the chemistry between Blanchard and Cravalho. It’s effortless and natural, a massive contrast to the awkwardness between Paige and Gabby whenever they interact with each other, which is certainly purposeful. Crushes can feel so fanciful in your head, but real life’s a different story altogether. What’s also great is that Paige and A.J are comfortably queer, and the main conflict of the film doesn’t revolve around any of the characters coming out of the closet.

However, the movie itself isn’t very cinematic. It almost feels like a TV show in the way it’s shot and framed; none of the visuals stand out and the movie doesn’t have many memorable set pieces. All the other characters are absolutely campy and over the top as well, which confuses the tone of the movie. The leads are lovely and endearing, while the rest of these characters feel like they shouldn’t even exist in real life.

There’s Paige’s best friend Dillon (Ty Alvarez), who’s basically her hype man, there to support her at every turn and make out with his girlfriend Stacey (Teala Dunn) in nearly every frame of the movie. Then there’s the lustful behaviour between Paige’s mom Angie (Megan Mullally) and her track coach (Aasif Mandvi) as well. I get that the film is trying to normalise sex and not have it portrayed as some sacred, taboo teen experience, but still, maybe there can be more to the characterisation than consistent dirty talk.

The film’s focus on the importance of art is great. We see Paige frequently designing posters for both Dillion and Stacey’s campaign for class president, and it’s a medium of expression for both Paige and A.J. Angie’s support of Paige’s art and sexuality is also really refreshing thing, since the disapproving parental figure is usually a major aspect of coming of age narratives.

I really wanted to like Crush more than I did, but unfortunately, the film doesn’t really distinguish itself in a saturated genre. It needed more tension, more stakes, and better supporting characters. Even the commentators at the track meet were so bizarre. Less witty side quips, more real emotions, please.

Review screener provided.

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The love story between Blanchard's Paige and Cravalho's A.J is actually really sweet. It's just folded into a not so memorable movie.