me likey likey likey
This was a fun little enemies-to-lovers rom-com: cool art, cool fits, and Megan Mullaly. Starring Rowan Blanchard as Paige, the panic gay, and Auli’i Cravalho as AJ, the crush’s (Isabella Ferreira, Love, Victor alum, as Gabriela) younger sister, it’s immediately established that Paige’s current self-worth revolves around getting into a CalArts summer program.
Unfortunately, everything she’s prepared for her submission seems passionless. And on top of that, she’s accused by the principal of being the artist KingPun, an anonymous student artist who’s been painting artwork all over school property. If she can’t figure out who the actual KingPun is she’ll be expelled and have no chance at CalArts. So, she tries out for the track team so she’ll have an additional alibi. This is a chance to get close to dreamy Gabriela who is on the team, but it ends up being AJ who trains Paige for competition and unexpectedly helps her search for KingPin.
I wouldn’t say it’s the strongest script I’ve ever heard, but the execution makes it an easy-breezy watch. In addition to it being gay, my initial attraction to this was to see how good the on-screen chemistry between Blanchard and Cravalho was. Cravalho posted a TikTok of Blanchard’s old tweets the day the casting was announced. It’s since been removed with even the reposts of it on Twitter gone. It seems as though they’ve resolved whatever tension there could’ve been because I enjoyed how they played off of one another.
Blanchard plays an anxious-leaning type-A person with Megan Mulally as her mother. Mulally, as usual, is comedically incredible as she plays an overly open mom. It’s cringe enough to be fun. Cravalho is a more chill person who’s always felt overshadowed by her older sister who seems to excel in everything. The triangle dynamic here is effective because all the characters genuinely care about each other in some way. Kids in this movie maturely deal with their personal issues and admit when they’re wrong.
I loved the fashion and art in this movie - I’m still searching for Blanchard’s striped top with the little dog on a skateboard (please help). Not to spoil too much of the ending, but Paige makes her grand apology to AJ by making art she’s truly passionate about. Whatever artist irl that’s behind the punny, blocky pop art pieces used in the movie further added to the very gay, very youthful vibes this movie produced. It was stylistically so entertaining that it’s easy to forgive any script weaknesses and just hang on for the ride.
The dialogue isn’t half bad most of the time - it’s meant to be funny even if it goes too far in that direction. Even though the execution was sometimes more comedy than character depth, I would still watch it again. The side characters add a lot to the movie and enforce the positivity of the film. It’s light, it’s positive, it feels like a real experience to me. It’s produced by some big names including Maya Rudolph so you can easily feel that this isn’t a tone to interpret overly seriously. I had a good feeling when it finished with a very Disney Channel-esque flourish.
I’m loving the trend in LGBTQIA+ content recently, including this movie and Netflix’s Heartstopper, where identities just are. Sexual identity is certainly a core theme in both of these, but it’s not really what the content is about and the content also isn’t deeply depressing. Paige is casually gay, Gabriela is casually gay, AJ is casually bi, and other characters are casually non-binary or casually transgender. Paige’s best friends are in a straight relationship with each other.
It’s not wrong to make content about the trials and tribulations of identifying as such, but it sucks when that’s the only kind of content you get. It’s good to have a range of movies and tv - from 1-star horrible movies like GBF to 3-star average ones like Crush to stellar 5-star shows like Heartstopper. Straight people roll out average rom-coms all the time that become iconic, so it’s nice to see this coming-of-age one come into the mix. More queer joy!
Crush is streaming on Hulu.