Written and directed by David Henrie and executive produced by Selena Gomez, This Is The Year follows a nerdy high school senior who embarks on a road trip with friends to go to a music festival to see lovelytheband. Along the way, choices are made, secrets are kept, secrets are revealed, and friendships are tested. Starring an outstanding young ensemble cast, keep reading for a review of the feel-good movie of the year! Warning: Mild spoilers for This Is the Year! Read at your own risk.
The movie begins with Josh (Lorenzo Henrie) and Mikey (Jake Short) picking up Mikey’s cousin, Zoey (Alyssa Jirrels) who will now be going to school with them. Zoey gets into the back of the car with Josh and they bond over their love for lovelytheband, saying that they’re the soundtrack of their generation. Josh tries everything he can do ask Zoey out, despite Zoey dating Kale (Gregg Sulkin), with no luck. Soon it’s the end of the year and Zoey reveals she’s graduating early and moving to LA. In a desperate attempt to go out with her, Josh tells Zoey he has wristbands to the music festival Front & Center to see lovelytheband, even though he doesn’t. He and best friend Molly (Vanessa Marano) try to get wristbands from second-hand sellers as they and their friends go on a road trip to the festival.
Josh and Molly’s relationship is interesting throughout the movie. They start off as the best of friends, working together and helping each other out. Molly gives Josh advice about Zoey and tries to find wristbands for the festival so Josh can impress her. However, as the film goes on, they start to get closer, realizing how much they care for one another. They don’t fall for each other all at once. It’s gradual throughout. The audience can see them falling for each other, even when Josh and Molly don’t necessarily see it themselves. It’s the little things that they do that build up to a moment they have towards the end of the film when they figure out that they can’t be without each other, that they need each other. They need to be more than friends because they’re meant to be together. Josh had been wanting to be with Zoey not realizing that the one meant for him has been right in front of him his entire life. But will they take the leap and turn their friendship into something more?
A great thing about This Is The Year is that it has the characters making decisions that change their lives. These life choices can be big or small, from deciding to move somewhere to making a choice about a relationship. Each character has a decision to make: Mikey must choose between working with his brother on a food truck or going to college, Josh must decide what to write for his graduation essay while at the same time deciding whether he really wants to be with Zoey, Molly has to figure out her feelings for Josh, and Zoey needs to decide between Kale and Los Angeles or going home. This Is The Year is relatable on that level. Throughout the movie you slowly see these characters connect and disconnect, with their decisions sometimes hurting other people. But in the end, it turns out okay with a little communication. This Is The Year is not only about making decisions but also about having fun and living in the now.
This young cast make the movie what it is. The range they have in this film alone shows how talented they are. The four leads, Lorenzo Henrie, Vanessa Marano, Jake Short, and Alyssa Jirrels, do such an incredible job throughout the film. The chemistry between them is so real, which is why it works. Henrie, Marano, Short and Jirrels are four individuals who bring so much talent to the screen. This Is The Year has comedy, romance, and drama, and the cast portray all the emotions so well. You see Josh and Molly gradually getting closer, the tension between Zoey and Kale, the heartbreak with Donnie (Bug Hall) because of Mikey, and so much more. Also part of the cast is David Henrie, who wrote and directed This Is The Year. Henrie’s ability to execute such a beautifully written movie while both directing it and having an acting role is something unique.
Overall, This Is The Year is a feel-good and lighthearted movie with an outstanding and talented young cast. The concept is realistic and the themes are relatable. It’s the kind of movie we need during these trying times where the future seems unknown. It gives us this hope that we can go on road trips with our friends again, go to a festival where we don’t have to worry about social distancing and just have fun, not worrying about tomorrow or what could happen in a few months. This Is The Year gives us this sense of normalcy that we’ve been longing for nearly half a year now. Watching it, you can act like nothing is happening, at least for an hour and a half. It’s the movie that we’ve been needing to pick us up and make us feel hopeful again about the future. The story, the characters, and even the setting, with the beautiful visuals at points in the movie, make This Is The Year what it is: the feel-good movie we all need right now.
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