“The Last Summer,” Netflix’s most recent teen rom-com, gets 2 Stars if I’m feeling generous


Main love interests, Phoebe and Griffin, played by Maia Mitchell and K.J Apa

Lara Decastecker, Contributing Writer

Another Netflix romance? Yup. Am I complaining this time too? Yup. Watching adult actors portray children, alongside forced jokes, multiple choppy storylines and longing gazes by every hormonal character, the lesson of true sacrifice and finding yourself is hidden deep within– says nobody. If so, it’s so deep within that I just… can’t find it.

Set up in the ever-busy and expensive city of Chicago, the film “The Last Summer,” directed by brothers William and Scott Bindley, follows the individual storylines of a couple recent high school graduates. Most of all, it floods the watcher with questions. Do adults really think us teenagers are that pathetic? Are all parties supposed to look like that? Am I supposed to look like I stepped out of Cosmopolitan too?

The film delivers a magazine, picture perfect city which makes me think I just stepped into every other movie. The houses are beautiful. The actors are almost all white (Ah America, the diversity). Everything is very predictable, vsco-filtered, and given an overall summer-y vibe. The camera shots and lighting make the movie look as if it stepped out of Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK” 2009’s music video. So “vintage.”

The film primarily focused on the teen YA-novel-like, wattpad comparable, middle school relationship equivalent (with the addition of quite a bit of alcohol and intimacy sprinkled in) love story between an aspiring filmmaker (Maia Mitchell) and a conflicted musician (K.J. Apa)–who by the way, look like they’ve been held back a few years. You’d think that after the cringefest that was “The Kissing Booth,” Netflix wouldn’t cast full-on adult actors to portray newly aged seventeen or eighteen year olds (the main male actors in both movies are 21… yikes).

Maia Mitchell’s Phoebe and K.J. Apa’s Griffin acted more on their immediate emotions than an attempt for genuine understanding. While the actors tried to come off as “raw,” it just came off as immature.

For two people who’ve known each other as acquaintances due to going to the same school district, their connection felt awkward. They had an inside joke of saying colleges’ different alumni… how could they possibly remember? I have no idea. Nonetheless, I’d rather have seen more build up and development in their relationship and friendship overall than see another cut to any of the other characters. The love interests acting was silver among the surrounding bronze. They were mediocre. The other actors were even more bland.

The conflicts between them (which in my book are miniscule) were pulled out of proportion, and only placed in to add fake dimensions to their flat relationship. Somehow, the makeshift love story was actually not the worst of the plot points in the movie, for they were only a piece of a puzzle in this fake wonderland summer fantasy.

The movie also followed longtime high-school sweethearts (Halston Sage, Jacob Latimore), a typical male chauvinistic pig who has a summer hook up bucket list (Wolfgang Novogratz), two “loser” best friend nerds (Mario Revolori and Jacob McCarthy), and probably the only lower middle-class teen in the entire show (Sosie Bacon). Everyone is, in lack of better words, filthy rich, with the exception of the filmmaker, Phoebe (she’s higher middle-class). She has enough money to live comfortably, but not easily pay for four years of college. The movie makes high school look extremely extravagant, and it just makes me uncomfortable because of how unrealistic it is.

The plot lines were simply not explored enough, and added nothing but pretend relatability to the audience. There were a few laughs here and there, but there was no actual personality given to the characters that an audience could truly connect to, just labels and stereotypes. Furthermore, most of the characters had problems which would be solved in seconds if they didn’t dwell and whine so much.

Even though us teens do dwell and whine a lot, this film made it look like we are tweens going through multiple first world problems parents just can’t fix with money. The acting came off as tacky and didn’t encompass how we actually act. Not to mention, for being generation z, these teens text like they’re my uncle who just got a phone for the first time. “Link up for old movie 2nite?” I could even here the little clicks of someone texting. No. Just no.

Personally, I still got one thing out of the movie: I’m even more excited for summer after watching it. If you were to see it’s breathtaking beach views, and a yacht experience (told you they’re all rich), perhaps you’d agree. “The Last Summer” is the icing on top of a cake, lots of fluff, not really good for you, and a dreamy treat you might (or might not) regret later on. You can watch it if you want to get into the summer mood, but it doesn’t rank high among Netflix’s other teen rom-coms for me.