By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
the new, satirical, black dramedy from director and screenwriter Quinn Shephard
(TV's "God Friended Me") is more than just OK. It's a surprisingly funny, insightful, and clever take on millennials and their obsession with social media.
It is about people like Danni Sanders (a delightful Zoey Deutch, TV's "Fairfax") who is an only child and whose mother Judith (Embeth Davidtz, TV's "Tales of the Walking Dead") and father Harold (Brennan Brown, TV's "Occult") are quite the odd couple. No wonder Danni has mommy and daddy issues.
Danni lives in New York City in a messy loft with her pet guinea pig. She works as a photo editor at a magazine.
It would be one thing if Danni were on the fast track to move up at her job, but she's not. In fact, her co-workers, and her boss (Negin Farsad, TV's "Bull") barely tolerate her. Danni has good intentions, but she just can't seem to fit in with anyone no matter how hard she tries.
She wants to be loved by everyone. She wants to be the cool girl that everyone hangs with. She wants to be the employee with the best office who gets all the plum writing assignments. Plus, she'd love to hook up with her narcissistic, tattooed, weed smoking colleague, Colin (a funny Dylan O’Brien, TV's "Curb Your Enthusiasm").
What can she do to be noticed and get in with the in crowd?
You'll be surprised. Danni decides to take a trip to Paris for a writer's retreat, until she notices she can't afford the airfare. So, she does the next dumb thing. She fakes the trip. She uses her photoshop skills and alters pictures and places herself at famous Paris landmarks. She makes it look convincing down to the delicious croissants and coffee at a trendy, Parisian bakery.
Then, as she's putting the finishing touches on everything, remember, all from the comfort of her apartment, she posts the pics on Instagram and other social media. Before long she's getting all kinds of attention. Shortly after that she notices a TV news story about a terrorist attack in Paris.
Now everyone is wondering if she's OK including her parents who are frantically calling her. Of course, Danni leans in deeper by telling everyone she was right in the middle of the explosion yet managed to escape unharmed.
When she returns back home, well, she's a superhero. Everyone that shunned her at work, wants to be around her and find out about her experiences. Heck, she even offers to write a story about witnessing the tragedy titled "I'm Not Okay." Her boss loves the idea. It turns out to be a huge hit for the outlet. It even spawns an online hashtag movement for people who have experienced various traumatic events.
Everything that Danni dreamed of being, has taken shape and she's loving all the attention that it brings. She even meets a school shooting survivor named Rowan (an excellent Mia Isaac, "Don't Make Me Go") and they attend group therapy meetings. Really, Danni just wants to use the opportunity for her own selfish purposes. I have to say that Mia Isaac is as dynamic in this role as she is in her Amazon film "Don't Make Me Go."
Danni's fame is now off the charts. She is the toast of the town and an international sensation. But, almost as fast as she became a critical darling, her lies come back to haunt her when her fellow co-worker Harper (Nadia Alexander, TV's "Servant"), starts digging a bit. Harper discovers more than a few holes in Danni's account of the Paris trip and incident.
When it all comes together for Harper and she realizes Danni is a big, fat liar and confronts her, Danni's world comes crashing down fast. Harper forces her to cop to what she did. It's a pathetic moment when she has to tell the entire office she lied. Now, no one wants to be around her. Even her parents can't believe she would stoop so low for fame and fortune.
In some ways, "Not Okay" is a cautionary tale about many—not all--of today's youth needing to be heard and seen at all costs through their social media platforms.
"Not Okay" is a well-written and brutally honest dramedy that doesn’t pull any punches and has a lot to say.
"Not Okay" begins streaming on Hulu July 29.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.
Watch This Trailer For "NOT OKAY"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.