Director Kyle Newman knocked it out of the park with his Star Wars homage comedy Fan Boys and now he is looking to bring his style to the teen age comedy fused with spy action with Barely Lethal. The film features a great cast including Hailee Steinfeld, Sophie Turner, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba, Thomas Mann, Rachael Harris, and Dan Fogler, but does it have the comedy and action to live up to its title or will it not be a mission worth setting out on?
Barely Lethal follows a teenage special ops agent coveting a “normal” adolescence who fakes her own death and enrolls in a suburban high school. She quickly learns that surviving the treacherous waters of high school is more challenging than international espionage. This is one of those movies that is full of all the clichéd teen comedy aspects you expect and it is meant too. Sure the film is a bit cheesy at times, but something about it works on a fun level. The story is a great fusion of two genres and pokes fun at them both without going so far to make it a spoof film. Instead it is the best of both worlds using the clichéd nature of films like Mean Girls and Bring it On to create something fun for everyone. Of course the majority of the story direction is predictable, but that doesn’t really hurt the film all that much. The cast all do a fine job with Jackson toned down a lot for his character while still bringing his usual style to the table. Steinfeld does a decent job carrying the film bringing that comfortable action vibe as well as the awkward teenager together all at once. There aren’t too many laugh out loud moments, but instead play up the expected teen comedy world to perfection while changing it up a bit. There is one sequence with Steinfeld and a group of cheerleaders that goes in a different direction that you normally see in these films and is pretty funny. On the flip side there is still plenty of fun action with some decently choreographed and executed fight sequences.
This isn’t a perfect film as the predictable nature of it all keeps it from being totally fresh, but it is still a minor struggle if you get what Newman was trying to do. Not everyone will get the joke of it all, but those that do will likely have a good time with it. If you are looking for something that is just fun with a hint of butt kicking thrown in for good measure then check out Barely Lethal. In addition to the film this release includes deleted scenes, commentary, and a featurette that takes you further inside the film.
Prepare for mission high school when Barely Lethal hits Blu-ray and DVD on August 4th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.