A movie like Honor Society reminds me of countless college courses people take thinking it is going to be one thing, but discover it isn’t. I thought of taking Intro to Astronomy but never did because I had reservations it was going to be a lot harder than I thought. I found out from other students the class was very misleading.
The marketing for Honor Society paints it as a modern-day Gen Z version of Say Anything…, but that’s because they’re highlighting Gatan Matarazzo, who is famous for Stranger Things. But be warned, his character of Michael Dipnicky, isn’t in the movie as much as the marketing would imply. The main character is actually Honor Rose (Angourie Rice), a senior at George H.W. Bush High School in an undisclosed area. It’s not green enough to be filmed in Georgia but that means the cloudy overcast points to the Vancouver area.
Honor is a precocious student who makes good grades but has her hopes set on getting into Harvard University as her guidance counselor, Mr. Calvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is an alum and has an awkward infatuation with Honor that she is willing to exploit. The fact that Honor begins as not too likeable is part of the reason Paramount-Plus focused on Honor’s relationship with Michael. But more on that later.
Honor is friends with popular students Emma (Avery Konrad) and Talia (Kelcey Mawema) but only hangs out with them because of school cred. It’s rather honest in its portrayal of how some students at high school find themselves becoming part of the cool kids or the clique just because of how they look or how they dress. Mr. Calvin tells Honor that she is one of four students who more than likely will get a good recommendation to Harvard as he has a friend in admissions.
When she hears this, Honor sets out to defeat the competition. One of which is the star athlete, Travis Biggins (Armani Jackson), who has the perfect girlfriend and everyone likes him. Except that Honor has noticed Travis is probably gay and attracted to theater/drama student enthusiast, Gary (Ben Jackson Walker). So, Honor gets herself involved in drama and manages to push the drama group to take on a play written by creative introvert Kennedy Park (Amy Keum), another competitor, with Travis as the main star to encourage support. Naturally, Gary who has a crush on this, is okay with it despite appearing he’s not.
Then, Honor becomes lab partners with Michael, who has mostly gone unnoticed at the school. Over time, Honor and Michael become friendly and even hang out more. And she realizes that Travis is actually enjoying his acting chops as Kennedy becomes more open and even designs costumes as the play is about Mary Queen of Scots. Yet this might affect their grades and chances, Honor begins to like Michael more and Kennedy sees her as a friend.
I’m not going to discuss much more, but you’ve seen this movie before. David A. Goodman, who wrote the script, has written for The Orville, Family Guy and even The Golden Girls. As a coming-of-age teen comedy, these movies pretty much write themselves. Honor discovers that there are more important things than getting into Harvard. She inadvertently causes Travis to be open about his sexuality as well as his love of drama and spotlights Kennedy’s talents.
As for Michael, well, I’m going to say there’s a twist that anyone who’s seen these movies could see coming a mile away. The thing with Mr. Calvin does push the limits especially since she’s still a student, 18 or not, at the school. But he does get his just desserts. I wouldn’t really call it a great teen comedy. It’s enjoyable and Rice is a delight as Honor. She keeps the movie watchable and I’m sure if there was another actress, everyone would stop watching after 10 minutes.
I feel that it’s premiere on Paramount-Plus was because the studio didn’t have much confidence in it. It’s TV-MA rating is an indication it’s not for kids. That’s another reason. There’s a lot of real talk here by the characters. But it isn’t loaded with profanities and sexual innuendos. I just have a feeling that studio executies don’t know how to market movies with women roles like this to the general public.
I don’t even know if people would’ve turned out in big numbers to see this. Studios only want to make blockbusters movies that will make a lot of money in North America and overseas. These little movies were all the rage back in the 1980s and 1990s. It feels like they’re going in reverse rather than moving forward.
What do you think? Please comment.