‘Status Update’ movie review: What if there was an app that grants wishes?

Status Update explores what would happen if teenagers got ahold of an app that serves as their own personal wish-fulfilling genie. What would you post if you knew it would come true? As these stories usually go, viewers learn that it is better to be yourself than getting lost in a façade of who you think you should be.

Kyle Moore (Disney star Ross Lynch) is plucked from his Huntington Beach home and dragged to Connecticut when his parents Ann (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Darryl (Rob Riggle) separate. His younger sister Maxi (Brec Bassinger) thinks he’s a loser who needs to accept the fact that their parents are unavoidably getting a divorce. Why else would she move them 3,000 miles away from him? Fair point.

Unfortunately, Kyle’s first day at the school doesn’t go as he hopes. He is immediately and unnecessarily bullied by the “cool kids” on the hockey team. Stereotypical jock, Derek (Gregg Sulkin), is the worst of his tormentors. Harvey Guillen shines as his new-found friend, Lonnie, a funny and endearing outcast who welcomes the newbie without question. Of course, in the midst of it all, Kyle finds his crush in the school’s sweet songbird, Dani (Olivia Holt).

During one of the bullies’ many cruel stunts, they use Kyle’s phone as a puck and smash it beyond repair. When he goes to the mall phone kiosk he meets a bizarre bearded dude who babbles incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo about Kyle’s chakras and the Universe’s ability to listen to our desires. He hands Kyle a new phone with a magic app that make his status updates come true. With a simple post, he breaks into song and dance in the school cafeteria like he’s Bruno Mars and becomes a star player on the hockey team.

As expected, wish-fulfillment comes with its drawbacks. Gradually Kyle starts losing himself and his friends. He must decide what he wants out of life. Does he want to be a social sensation or would he rather be himself and be surrounded by the people who truly care about him?

At its best, Status Update provides thoughtful commentary on Millennials’ obsession with appearances and social media. The post makes the person, which we know isn’t true. Unfortunately, for the most part, this film is campy and predictable. It starts off as cute, declines into underwhelmingly subpar and then it becomes uncomfortably bad before course-correcting for the grand finale.

The respectable supporting cast anchors the film. McLendon-Covey and Riggle play poignant roles as Kyle’s parents who are having very relatable relationship issues. Although, at one point you almost wait for her to address Kyle as “shmoopi.”  Higgins is hilarious as the disillusioned band director still pining after his dead cat. However, I don’t know why Janssen decided to take the role of a mother who obsessively falls in love with Kyle after a post backfires. The scene is painful to watch. Actually, it made me cringe. If only Jean Grey could have intervened.

Status Update will be available On-Demand and in select theaters on March 30th. Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend paying to see it. You’d be more satisfied watching Kyle’s predictable shenanigans for free when it hits your streaming service or cable provider. It is fun, silly and surprisingly musical. Just to warn you Disney fans, the movie is rated PG-13 for a reason. There are some racy moments so I wouldn’t call this completely kid-friendly fare. Other than that, you pretty much know what you’re getting from the trailer.

Status Update (2018) Directed by Scott Speer. Written by Jason Filardi. Starring Ross Lynch, Olivia Holt, Courtney Eaton, Harvey Guillen, Gregg Sulkin, Brec Bassinger, Maude Green, Markian Tarasiuk, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rob Riggle, John Michael Higgins, Famke Janssen.  

2 out of 5 stars

This review was originally published on Film Threat.

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