Ever since “The Kissing Booth,” “Set it Up” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Netflix has been reintroducing the romantic comedy genre to new audiences as well as old stalwarts. “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” is just another in the line of Netflix produced romcoms that have made the summer heat more bearable. Starring “Stranger Things” darling, Shannon Purser as well as Noah Centineo, the film doesn’t go quite as hard as “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” but it comes close.
The premise is simple. Sierra Burgess (Purser) is a loser. She has one friend. Her counselor tells her she can’t go to Stanford because she doesn’t stand out on her resume. She’s insecure. She doesn’t look like the girls in her school. She’s never been in love and she’s living in the shadow of her parents.
Veronica (Kristine Froseth) is the most popular girl in school but her life outside of school is a mess. When she’s hit on by hot jock Jamey (Centineo), she gives him Sierra’s number. Thus, begins a catfishing plot that is overwhelmed by the friendship that develops between Veronica and Sierra.
Centineo and Purser are charming together. Their chemistry isn’t as strong as it could be but there is no denying that Centineo is charismatic. People on Tumblr are ooh-ing and aww-ing over Centineo but let’s not ignore the fact that Purser is making a name for herself in the Hollywood system while being beautiful in a way that defies the norms of the business. Taking that away from her is not fair.
That being said, Purser crushed it as Sierra. She carried the film well and everything about her character is so raw and engaging. Purser also has a wonderful, jazzy singing voice that is put on display here and is it a brilliant addition to the plot.
Perhaps the single best thing about “Sierra Burgess” is the fact that it focuses on the friendship between Sierra and Veronica even more than it focuses on the romance. It’s especially wonderful given how rooted in the 80s “Sierra Burgess” is. Audiences who are older will really appreciate the John Hughes feel of this film. From the synth-pop soundtrack to the inclusion of Alan Ruck and Lea Thompson, two actors who made their mark in 80s romantic comedy films.
However, new audiences will jump at the chance to see the topic of friendship developed along with the romance. I’d almost say that Purser and Froseth have more chemistry than Purser and Centineo. Girls supporting girls is a movement I can get behind.
“Sierra Burgess” might not be as good as “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” but it is a film that needs to be watched. Not only does it tackle things like self-esteem, the dangers of catfishing and the power of friendship, it also stars a host of talented and beautiful actors who bring their characters to life with emotional rawness and sparkling wit.