So the thing about “Not Okay” is it technically doesn’t lie about what it warns us about in the beginning or even what it’s trying to be; it just can’t always commit to the bit. However, the best I can give this is…..this is Dear Evan Hansen done right.
In regards to Quinn’s second directorial outing, I will give her credit for trying to be ambitious with the subject matter and not being so delicate with spoofing relevance on the Internet. She has a more laidback, chill aura to her style that almost feels eerily close to autopilot but there is a legitimate layout to how she goes through scene to scene while depicting most aforementioned beats of the plot in a more morally ambiguous light. Compared to other stories that depict things as such with through only black or white, here, her vision attempts to bubble up moral grays with an oddball lense.
Zoey Deutch delivers a tour-de-force like performance that’s far better than the standards of these movies normally allow. Not to say she’s not alone; Mia Issac is very impressive while the rest of the cast was captivating…even if they were just gags at the end of the day. For what was given, the film is paced accordingly and with no means to rush, cinematography makes each scene look fairly decent but a smidge off as well, editing warrants no issues and music has some nice interlude/outerlude sequences but is otherwise the usual standard fare.
Dark comedy, or the use of it, varies a lot. Sometimes it works, other times it comes across disingenuous and tasteless. Not only that, the balancing act between what’s supposed to be funny and what’s supposed to be taken seriously never meshed together cleanly and that’s at fault of the loose tone. One or two scenes could’ve been cut or added by a few minutes and regardless of how well Quinn directs most of this story, it’s obvious this is a lot for her to take up and the pressure leads to some janky sequences.
I honestly couldn’t help feeling a little cheated by the story. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a dark satire about the pitfalls of social media and how warped peoples minds can be when it comes to whatever we will do for fame but it seems to always take the easy way out whenever it feigns going deeper. The film actually going out of its way to try and make me uncomfortable was welcomed after a little while; but for all the satirical potential here, it never truly goes out of its way to REALLY ask WHY some people would be willing to go that far for attention and it can’t even be bothered to delve deep into the topics it spoon-feeds the audience beyond a surface level assessment.
With a plot like this stretching out to be a satire, drama and character study all at once, none of the pieces click well enough to feel sharp or even polished.
With that being said……I freakin’ adore the ending of this movie. It breaks a familiar pattern that these movies normally set up while setting the record fairly straight on circumstances like these: apologizing and admitting your faults is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It might give you closure but not to the people you hurt in the progress; the best chance at fully mending those wounds is to make amends with who you are. I will admit I can see how some people may loathe this ending as it can be interpreted as being acceptable to cancel and blacklist someone for making a mistake but keep this in mind, guys: actions have consequences no matter who you are and for someone like Danni, if you’re able to accept never finding redemption but still strive to be better in the end, that’s a million times better than just getting a slap on the wrist and pretending it never happened.
Dear Evan Hansen could not understand that. THIS MOVIE DOES.
In a classic case of wanting to have its cake and eat it too, Not Okay barely avoids living up to the accuracy of its title right down to the letter, mostly due to a surprising alteration in the final act.