Movie review: Sierra Burgess Is A Loser

Title: Sierra Burgess Is A Loser 
Directer: Ian Samuels 
Writer: Lindsey Beer 
Stars: Shannon Purser, Kristine Proseth, Noah Centineo 
Publication date: September 2018 
Can be seen on: Netflix 

A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes.

So here’s what just happened.

I watched Sierra Burgess Is A Loser on Netflix this afternoon and I loved it. So much that when a friend asked how it was, I promptly answered ‘perfect'. That was of course by no means accurate, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew at least that much, but I had just finished watching it and my heart was overflowing with happy, hopeful feelings. I had been waiting SO LONG for a movie like this to come around. So long, you have no idea…

Maybe I shouldn’t have checked out the twitter hashtag right after, but I wanted to know what people were talking about, you know, besides how we all need a boyfriend the likes of Noah Centineo/Jamey/Peter Kavinsky. Hahaha, boy, the comments were something alright. I had not seen this coming. Clearly the world hates this movie. And I mean really, passionately, hates it. The more I read, the worse it got. For a while my eyes only registered one word over and over.





So I did the thing I always do. I started doubting myself. Is it? Is it truly a bad movie?

Maybe. I’ll admit it has issues. But not all the criticism is fair and a lot of it is exaggerated. I can’t help but wonder what the people trashing it had to say about, for instance, The Kissing Booth. If they found it equally problematic or if that one was cute. If they felt there was a problem of consent there too.

You know what, fuck this. I’m angry. I’m willing to bet they didn’t think that one was all that problematic even though, to these standards, it also was. But when it involves people who are conventionally beautiful, we’re always willing to forgive just that little bit more. There is an extreme dislike for Sierra out there. And no, she wasn’t by any means perfect. She does not deserve the enormous amount of hate she’s getting either. I have some things to say.

Reasons to dislike Sierra Burgess #1: she catfishes Jamey 
Obviously it sounds disastrous when you put it that way. Catfishing is always wrong. Yet I feel we should give Sierra a little credit here. She did not hunt for an attractive guy to mislead, she didn't set out to play someone. Suddenly this random guy started texting her, thinking she was someone else, and she liked him. Really liked him. And so she didn’t correct his assumptions. Yes, of course she should have told him from the start who she was. But it’s so easy to say that. Do you have any idea how difficult that is? Having to tell your crush that you are not the ‘hot’ girl he might think you are, knowing there’s a very strong possibility he’ll cut off all contact when he finds out. Because let’s face it, no matter how much we try to teach each other that looks don’t matter, they still do to most people. I get that it scared her. That her insecurities got the best of her. That she was terrified. People often ask why I don’t do online dating. Well, this is exactly why. Because what if I make a real connection with someone and then at some point I have to tell him that there’s actually way more of me than he bargained for? What if there’s disappointment on his face the first time we meet? Do you know I’ve met people who actually DROVE AWAY once they realized their date wasn’t as attractive as they thought? I don’t think I would survive if that happened to me. So I get that it was easier to pretend. I don’t think she actually thought something would come from it in the beginning. Of course it was still wrong. Of course she took things way too far. She definitely should not have had Veronica step in. I’m just saying a little understanding for her situation wouldn’t be misplaced. Besides, the movie doesn’t pretend that this is okay behavior. Sierra realizes that what she did was not okay, too late perhaps, but in the end she did.

Reasons to dislike Sierra Burgess #2: Sierra is a bitch and does not deserve Veronica’s forgiveness 
I wonder if people even realize how hypocrite this sounds. What Sierra did to Veronica, hacking her instagram account to post that picture, crossed a big line. It was dead wrong of her to do that. But somehow many seem to conveniently forget all the horrible things Veronica did/said to Sierra. Why is that not a problem? Why are so many people convinced Veronica is by far the better person here? Veronica basically called her trash on a daily basis. She didn’t want to hang out with Jamey because he had ‘loser friends’ and ‘hanging out with losers makes you a loser’. She gave Jamey Sierra’s phone number because she thought it was fun to bully Sierra some more. Why is that so easily forgotten? Some actually have the nerve to say ‘Sierra only uses Veronica for her own gain, it's disgusting’ (meaning that she only wants to tutor her to get help with Jamey). I say, why the hell not? Sierra had no obligation to do ANYTHING nice for Veronica at that point. She saw a win-win opportunity and grabbed it. And she actually did help Veronica. She helped her study, taught her a lot. They became friends and Veronica went through some great character development and I started liking the girl. All of that is true. This Veronica was not the same person anymore. And no, she did not deserve to have Sierra do that to her. But neither did Sierra deserve to be bullied and called names by her at the start just because she was different. That Sierra was confident enough to not let those comments destroy her, does not make them any less horrible. Bullying is always wrong and to me, posting that picture was not worse than what Veronica did to her. Sierra forgave Veronica for what she did, so I think it reasonable Veronica should forgive her for that incident too. They both should have been better than that but people do things they regret.

Reasons to dislike Sierra Burgess #3: Sierra pretends to be deaf. This is disgusting and hurtful. 
I think what we need here is some perspective. This scene was awkward to watch and a case of unfortunate misjudgment from the makers, but I’m sure it wasn’t meant to make fun of people with hearing disabilities. Sierra pretended to be deaf because it seemed a valid excuse for not talking to Jamey. Not something I would do, but I’m sure there was no intention at all to in any way ridicule or harm deaf people.

Reasons to dislike Sierra Burgess #4: She does not deserve Jamey. SHE KISSES HIM WITHOUT CONSENT. That ending is completely unrealistic. 
She kisses him without consent. Sorry but that actually makes me roll my eyes. How many times have we seen teen movies/romances where this sort of thing happened and thought it cute? No, he did not literally give his consent. But she was the girl he had been communicating with all this time, she was the girl he was in love with. We shouldn’t exaggerate it and turn it into something it was not, make it bigger than it was. I feel like that would be an insult to people who have actually been the victim of abuse.

As for that she does not deserve Jamey.. It makes me sad. Because I can’t help but wonder how many people say that because they don’t like seeing him with someone who looks like her. One of the first comments I read said something in the line of “I know it’s not the point of the movie but I want Jamey and Veronica to get together”. It’s not the point of the movie. Sigh. No, this is the kind of movie where just this once the ‘odd’ girl gets the guy, right? Your annual Ugly Betty. I wish for the day when a plus-size girl can get together with a genuinely kind guy on screen and for it to be normal and accepted. For it to be about their chemistry. Is it really that much more natural to root for two 'attractive' characters to get together? Is that kind of romance so much more beautiful? Shouldn't it be about so much more than appearances? Besides, I thought Sierra/Shannon looked really pretty. This movie made me believe. It gave me hope. When Jamey said she was exactly his kind of type, I melted. I love that there’s now another movie out there where someone who doesn’t look like a girl from a magazine can be the love main love interest because of who she is. Can be desirable without changing her appearance. Can be more than just the comic relief role they usually push these women in. When they talked on the phone it was adorable. She was just a girl and he was just a guy and they fell in love.

The makers should have explored that better. Should have had her come forward a lot sooner and focused on the positive instead of trying to add all this unnecessary drama for shock effect. It kind of ruined it. I rolled my eyes when Jamey kissed Veronica. Like we haven’t seen this exact thing a million times before. I knew exactly what would happen after. Sierra would see, she’d be angry and lash out in an unforgivable way. It’s so overdone. They should have focused on her being brave enough to come clean and actually talk and apologize to him. That would have been so much more interesting, so much more intense. But we didn’t get that. Very unfortunate. Yes, the ending was unrealistic. Not because Jamey forgave her, but because he forgave too easily. That song was beautiful and raw, but should not have been used as an apology. They rushed the ending, that’s why. Had it gotten more time, it would have felt more natural.

So is it good or is it bad? Maybe it's beautifully bad.
What is the conclusion? My opinion, I still like this movie. Because it felt personal to me. I loved that this time the guy everyone has been swooning over since the release of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before now got together with a girl who was in many ways a lot like me. That is so important to me. I’m tired of sunflowers having to change into roses before someone can like them. I liked Sierra, despite her many wrongs. I thought she was beautiful, I loved her smile. I loved her easy nature. I loved her confidence. I loved how realistically her insecurities were portrayed. I loved that she and Veronica actually became friends. I loved that she stood up for herself. This movie is enjoyable. It's cute. The acting is good and there is a positive message. But yes, it could have been better. Had they not gone for the obvious teen drama, and had Sierra come out to Jamey a lot sooner, they could have had so much more meaningful moments. But we can't have it all, can we?

If anything, love or hate this movie, it can not be denied that Shannon Purser did an excellent job!

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