After his breakout role of Peter Kavinsky in the Netflix Original Film ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’, Noah Centineo has become something of a household name. At the very least, it is a name that will send most teenaged girls into a frenzy—if you mention this to any of your female friends who might be a little too into rom-coms, prepare yourself for oozings about how much they wish they could find their Peter Kavinsky or about how hot Centineo is. A cursory Google search of his name will—or would have, before the trainwreck that is ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’ came out—yield results that groups ‘To All The Boys’ with one of his other Big Name productions.
Among these mentions was the recently released Netflix movie ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’, which I mentioned previously. In this movie, Centineo basically reprises his role as Peter Kavinsky, except this time, he is far more one-dimensional—but we’ll get into that later. The premise of the movie is that a ‘hot jock’—Noah Centineo—accidentally texts the eponymous social reject, Sierra Burgess, mistakenly thinking that she is the captain of her high school’s cheer team. How creative. Anyway, the movie ends exactly as you might expect—everyone loves everyone, and each character gets a happily ever after. Now, there would be nothing wrong with this—if all of the characters weren’t so painfully unlikeable.
As a person who doesn’t really like romantic comedies, ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ gave me hope. It gave me hope for my own love life and friendships, and most of all, it gave me hope for ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’ to be an equally stunning film. I was gravely disappointed.
As I mentioned before, Centineo reprises his role as a jock who has so much more to him—this time, as Jamey, the quarterback for the rival high school’s football team. Unfortunately, there was nothing else to poor Jamey. He was shallow, and the only thing he loved more than pretty face of the head cheerleader, Veronica, was his sport. In the movie’s defense, there is a scene where Jamey is telling his friends during gym class that Veronica wasn’t just another one of ‘those pretty girls’—she was actually funny and smart and kind. Jokes on you, Jamey—Veronica is none of those things.
While we see an alarmingly little amount of character development in Jamey, Veronica changes quite a bit throughout the movie, even shaking her role as the stereotypical popular mean girl and helping Sierra to win the heart of the man of her dreams. Yes, Veronica’s character development was adequate, but I took the most issue with Veronica’s mother.
The first time we meet Veronica’s mother, she is chastising Veronica for studying. Maybe I was just fortunate enough to be raised by parents who encouraged me to put mental pursuits ahead of physical, but I cannot imagine any parent, no matter how shallow they were, telling their daughter that studying is not going to get her a man, and that she’s grounded if she skips cheer practice again. It’s later explained that her mother has some sort of complex caused by her husband leaving her for a younger woman, but the way she acts as a result of losing her husband is so over-the-top that I cannot imagine any grown woman acting that way. To make matters worse, she does a one-eighty in terms of personality after Veronica tells her once (one time!) that she can’t take out her frustrations on every person she meets.
Far worse than the stagnant character of Veronica’s mother was the actual character regression of the titular character, Sierra Burgess. At the beginning of the movie, Sierra is a strong-willed, self-confident young woman who doesn’t care what other people think of her. She’s smart, funny, kind, and can stand up for herself—the perfect role model for any teenage girl that’s feeling a little insecure. By the end of the movie, Sierra has devolved into aggressive self-hatred, even going as far as to yell at her parents for making her ugly. While she finds herself ugly on the outside, Sierra’s friends begin to see her as ugly on the inside, as she lies to and humiliates her only two friends. At the end of the movie, none of her newfound horrible personality traits get resolved—but everyone just forgives her, and she gets the guy anyway.
Finally, one of the (trivial) things that really irritated me were the text conversations. The main reason that Jamey falls in love with Sierra is for her stellar personality, but the viewer gets glimpses of their conversations throughout the movie, and the most standout thing is Jamey sending her a shirtless picture. Over the course of the movie, they text about five times, and I’ve never read a drier conversation in my life.
‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’ manages to take a classic high school story and somehow make it even more unwatchable than if they had just stuck to all the tropes. The characters are totally uninteresting; they lack so much personality that it’s near impossible to connect with them, and the little character development that occurs is in the opposite direction than what you would hope for. In the end, the producers, writers, and editors of ‘Sierra Burgess’ have managed to create a film that is guaranteed to make you feel a little bad about yourself, both because of the content, and because you can’t get those two hours of your life back. The film is aptly named: Sierra Burgess is a loser and watching this is definitely a big fat L for anyone duped into doing so by the promise of Noah Centineo’s pretty face.