The 80s were kind of a golden age for films for teens with Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Teen Wolf, Heathers, Risky Business, Porkys, and many others being aimed at that age filmgoer. It makes sense that directors 40-odd years later are paying homage to teen films of that era by making films of that look and style. This is the Year by David Henrie (first feature film), who co-wrote and directed, is that type of film. Filled with laughs, crushes and heightened emotions.
I began watching and did not have much hope for the obviously low-budget film, but it ended up winning me over. A film in which critics will find fault with and viewers will enjoy.
Being a high school senior who is weeks away from graduation, Josh (Lorenzo James Henrie – from television’s Fear the Walking Dead) knows he has only a few weeks to finally tell his crush, Zoey (Alyssa Jirrels – appeared in episodes of The Good Doctor and Girl Meets World), of his feelings for her. The rather nerdy teen has got to overcome his shyness and the fact that Zoey has a boyfriend (Gregg Sulkin – from television’s Pretty Little Liars).
When he finds out that she likes the same band he does and they are headlining at an upcoming outdoor music festival, Josh comes up with a plan. That plan involves telling her he has a couple of impossible to obtain bracelets for the festival and with the help of his friend, Molly (Vanessa Marano – from television’s Gilmore Girls), he is going to set up a romantic fireworks going off in the sky moment in order to tell Zoey how he feels.
Yes, it is rather cliche, but that is very much in the style of teen films of the 80s. You cannot really blame Henrie, who also has a role in the film, for that. It will really remind those who have seen his films of John Hughes’ work from that decade. If you are aware of this going in then you definitely know what you are in for. Those feelings of nostalgia will overtake any of the flaws that you could point out.
As for the young cast, Lorenzo James Henrie is a fine lead with enough charisma to make us root for Josh. The scenes he is in with Vanessa Marano feature a great chemistry. Speaking of Marano, she is really the unsung hero here, stealing every scene she is in.