Cinematic Releases: Status Update (2018) - Reviewed

In Theaters March 23rd On Demand & Digital March 30th
Status Update is a genial high school comedy with a pretty simple high concept applied to a very derivative story. It is a riff on the Aladdin story, updated for the social media age, but without any twists on the material that make this version stand out. The cast is amusing and there are several funny moments, both of which are enough to keep the film watchable despite its dull and predictable story.

​As the film opens, Kyle (Ross Lynch) has just moved from California to Connecticut with his mother (Wendi McLendon Covey) and younger sister (Brec Bassinger). They moved to get away from Kyle’s lazy dad (Rob Riggle), though Kyle would rather have stayed with him. Kyle struggles to fit in at his new school and is immediately bullied by hockey star Derek (Gregg Sulkin). After Derek breaks his phone, Kyle goes to the mall and gets a new phone from a kiosk manned by a very odd man who speaks in vague riddles (Joshua Adam Ostrovsky, Instagram celebrity The Fat Jew). The phone has an app on it that makes any status update Kyle enters into it come true. Kyle uses this to, among other things, win over the girl he likes, Dani (Olivia Holt). Wacky teenage shenanigans ensue.

​Chief among Status Update’s charms is its supporting cast. The leads are okay, but the filmmakers smartly surrounded them with some pretty funny actors that steal nearly every scene. Harvey Guillen is quite funny as Kyle’s new friend Lonnie. It is the stock “nerdy friend” role, but he is actually pretty likable in the role and the film does not make fun of him or overuse him. Wendi McLendon Covey and Rob Riggle do not have a lot to do as Kyle’s parents. However, they both have the ability to make simple lines funny. John Michael Higgins has some pretty good one-liners as frustrated band teacher Mr. Moody. And Famke Janssen and Martin Donovan show up for a scene as the parents of popular girl Charlotte (Courtney Eaton). It is a really impressive cast and they keep things reasonably enjoyable. ​

Status Update, besides being unoriginal, is kind of all over the place in terms of its humor. The story mainly seems aimed at a younger audience. Not little kids, but maybe 12-16. Yet there are several jokes that are oddly sexual. Not overtly so. There is no nudity, swearing or outright sex talk. However, there are some moments that are far more adult than the rest of the movie. And only one of those moments features an adult. It is not that I was offended by it. It just felt awkward and out of place.

​As a whole, Status Update is far too predictable to be good. But it is also a little too funny to be bad. Every time I thought the movie had lost me, one of the supporting cast members successfully delivered a funny line. I cannot quite recommend this movie, but if you happen to find yourself watching it, it will not feel like a complete waste of time. 

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-Ben Pivoz