Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE HALF OF IT (Netflix)

I hate it when that “confrontational” cliched climax almost potentially ruins a other wise very good little twist on the triangle romance film you’ve all seen before. THE HALF OF IT is that movie where a girl helps a boy write a letter/improve his image/etc. etc. etc. to get the other girl of his dreams. You know how those end. The boy ends up falling for the girl that is helping him and they live happily ever after. Or vice versa. You know you’ve seen it. Well in this new Netflix movie that came out this weekend, the girl actually likes the girl. But this isn’t really a lesbian story, it’s a story about the start of a beautiful yet unexpected platonic friendship between the boy and the girl helping him. And it all feels realistic except for a couple of the comedic moments and part of the bombastic cliched final act, going into “oh brother…” territory with confessions in front of a large group of people and some cringe worthy dialogue. But then it goes right back into what made it good before the end credits, so I really can’t fault a film for one scene when it didn’t ruin what it was ultimately about. That would just be me being really, really petty, on the level of me ripping apart a movie for absolutely no reason. And while you’ve seen that half of me before, I try to only do it to movies that deserve it.

IMDB.com describes The Half of It with the following: “When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn’t expect to become his friend – or fall for his crush.” The thing to stay for here is the camaraderie between the “jock”, whose name is Paul, and Ellie. The scenes between them, the crux of the movie and there are many, are fantastic and worth the watch alone. One of the scenes where he is on a date with her crush (Ellie is there observing), whose name is Aster, is laugh out loud funny and uses texting in a way I hadn’t seen in a movie before and was really charming the way the whole thing played out. Listen to me, calling texting ‘charming’. Like I said, I really like the realistic feel of the movie and the dialogue between all the characters is great. Ellen ends up hanging out with Aster alone during one scene and I appreciate that the movie didn’t go down roads that other movies had before. All of it was very refreshing. I’m sure you can see some of the ending coming, but there are parts that did surely surprise. There is even a good little side plot with Ellie and her father that almost brought a tear to my eye near the end. Without trying to ruin anything, the film does contain a final confession confrontation scene that seemed a little out of place in the movie that it is in, and seemed like it should’ve been in some comedy in the 90’s/early 2000’s.

There is even a punch line of dialogue from a background character when this scene ends (it involves a church, a hint if you are a casual movie theater and get to the end credits and have no idea what the fuck I was talking about), and it made me cringe and I still wonder why this part didn’t go through a few drafts, it felt very amateurish. But I mean, the rest of the movie is solid, so again, I can’t hate an entire movie for one scene, especially if that one scene doesn’t ruin the end end, so just take it as I was really nitpicking there. This movie was written and directed by a woman, Alice Wu, that hadn’t written or directed anything since 2004, this is only her second feature film. That’s a damn shame, as she does have a great eye for the camera here, the cinematography is very decent for a small film like this, and she has a real knack for dialogue and scenes playing out originally (except for just the one that I previously discussed). I would like to see more from her and I hope it doesn’t take another 16 years to make it happen. The film is filled with a bunch of unknown actors, but no that everyone does a solid job. Now while this film probably won’t hit my top 20 of the year, it is still a decent one time watch when you compare it to the other crap on the streaming service and the fact that more than half of my worst list this year is filled with movies from Netflix. You don’t know the half of trying to find a decent film on Netflix. I’ll take them wherever I can get them.

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