Netflix has gotten mighty good at targeting every one of my tastes. Just got done listening to public radio podcasts, Becky? May I suggest the new drama starring the guy from Flight of the Conchords (Jemaine Clement in People Places Things)? Curling your hair alone, Becky? May I suggest a cursive adorned, Nickelodeon starlet dress-up fest called Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List? Well, suggest you may, I say, before snatching the movie away and hiding in a corner to watch it.
This movie leaves nothing out – it’s got sun leaks, campy wigs, mini Adrian Greniers, teen stars, epic karaoke-fests and, of course, bellybuttons. It’s like if High School Musical‘s producers decided to make a movie targeting people who steal from Forever 21.
The plot takes the average sexually inexperienced teenage girl’s friendship with her gay best friend and glitter bombs it. Here we have Naomi (Victoria Justice) and her best friend Ely (Pierson Fodé). They are in LOVE. They kiss one another, snuggle, and he says, “I love you” to her, to which she replies, “Meya more.” Every morning, they shimmy past a guy playing music with an open guitar case on the sidewalk, and Naomi charitably flashes him her midriff with zen girl dance moves. Everything’s a production for these two, and the whole world is watching. They even end their hangouts with a non-ironic, “Baiiiiieeeeeee!!!!”
And yet. There is a nugget of resonance that can be dug up from underneath all the pleather pants going here. It’s a movie about teenagers who hide behind their friendship, writing everyone else off as “backup friends.” It’s a movie about how girls often feel comfortable expressing their sexuality to other girls and gay best friends before acknowledging the dudes lining up to send them dick pics they don’t want.
As the glitz is slowly traded for vulnerability, the nerdy side caricatures (I mean characters) start to gain depth as well. They’re not just there to make Naomi and Ely seem extra heart-emoji-worth after all. They’re fuzzy at first because that is how these two see the world, and it’s broken. They’ve shut everyone else out to protect themselves, and now it’s time to develop healthier borders before they just copulate with one another (cuz it really seems like they want to).
I felt some feels. Some of those feels were annoyance. Some were nostalgia. Some were sadness for how guarded you have to feel as a teenager entering the world of adult sexuality.
Is this a great movie? No. At times it feels like adults parodying what they think teenagers are like. But it is fun, and at least tries to add depth to its main characters’ perfectly toned oblique abdominals. So does it go on my kiss list or my no kiss list? I give it a peck on the cheeks with bee venom lip gloss.