Review: Hulu’s ‘Crush’ is a sweet but awkward coming-of-age movie

Favorite: Auli’i Cravalho and Rowan Blanchard – Photo: Hulu

Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but there’s plenty of both – literal, figurative and animated – in Hulu’s charming teen lesbian rom-com Crush (★★★☆☆). In a pivotal scene between two teenage lovers, a distinct yet distant rainbow looms on the horizon, heralding good fortune for the young lovers.

Just as thankfully, director Sammi Cohen and screenwriters Kirsten King and Casey Rackham seek to subvert their film’s candy-coated innocence with a dash of tart, bawdy humor that keeps the ship from sinking into corny oblivion.

This contrast is confirmed in the characters too, with Paige, a never-kissed high school girl, played by Rowan Blanchard, often embarrassed by her sex-positive and overly sharing mother Angie, played by Megan Mullally, a comedic actress who, of course, knows its way around, over and through a double meaning.

Angie is a “cool mom” to the extreme, she’s so supportive of her lesbian daughter Paige that she gives her glow-in-the-dark dental dam packs. And, after Paige joins the trail crew at Miller High to be near her crush Gabby Campos (Love, Victor‘s Isabelle Ferreira), mum Angie develops her own crush on the track coach, performed with playful swagger by Aasif Mandvi.

Mullally and Mandvi break into wicked and profuse banter, carrying the torch of comedy for adults watching. They’re joined on the excited train by Paige’s best friend Dillon (Tyler Alvarez) and girlfriend Stacey (Teala Dunn), rivals for class president who can’t keep their hands, lips or body against each other.

Meanwhile, Blanchard’s wide-eyed Paige progresses in her touching, if predictable, romantic drama, smitten with Gabby, but distracted by Gabby’s sister, AJ, played by Moana‘s Auli’i Cravalho, offering a layered and engaging portrayal of a girl equally inexperienced in love.

The film’s swing between rainbow romance and Vegas nightclub sexual humor is hit or miss. Dillon and Stacey’s schtick, in particular, gets old fast, with the pair not allowing much variation on the joke of their uncontrollable lust. Michelle Buteau’s wily principal Collins is also a bit one-note, but at least that one note is reliably funny.

Favorite: Megan Mullally -- Photo: Brett Roedel/Hulu
Favorite: Megan Mullally – Photo: Brett Roedel/Hulu

Inside the central love triangle, Blanchard, Cravalho and Ferreira are essentially the movie’s straight women (no pun intended), playing soapy, high-stakes crushes surrounded by more colorful comic book characters, like Addie Weyrich in the role of Miller High’s resident lesbian Wiccan. , Chantale.

This school is refreshing, if optimistic, full of openly gay children, sure of their identity. Paige and Gabby have dated since middle school, and AJ, who identifies as bi, also seems indifferent to living on the queer spectrum. The parents and teachers we see are super cool with these kids deciding for themselves who they will love or love or be.

Authority mainly stands in the film’s mystery over the unmasking of a school vandal, the graffiti artist known as King Pun, who tags the well-funded campus with murals like the Smokey Bear Warning , “Remember! Only you can fuck the Pa-tree-archy.

The graffiti (by artist Kayla Fritz) adds a bold and sassy statement to the proceedings, but King Pun’s mystery seems only half written.

The pacing in several places feels rushed, as if cut scenes or plot lines, and there is some tension in some obviously re-recorded dialogue in a few scenes.

First-time feature director Cohen gets solid work from the cast, but can’t hide budget limitations that include sets that are lit and decorated like store displays. The costume department does a better job of presenting the tastes and personalities of the people on screen.

Lively animation — often transposed onto action to reflect artist Paige’s vivid imagination — also says a lot about our love lead. So does the well-curated soundtrack, with original music from producer-musician St. Panther.

McClenney and St. Panther’s song “Kerosene” frames a particularly graceful flashback montage. It’s one of those conventional rom-com sequences that Crush both leans and puts on just enough spin to keep the audience smiling.

Crush is available to stream now on Hulu. To visit


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