Film Review: Netflix’s ‘Sierra Burgess Is a Loser’

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Sierra Burgess Is A Loser , Netflix’s latest teen flick, is both very lucky and very unlucky that it came out when it did. This is a movie that will live and die by what it’s compared to.

The central idea of Sierra Burgess is that awkward teen girls who are larger than a size two are worthy of love, and in that sense, the movie is very fortunate indeed that it finds itself coming out just weeks after Insatiable tried and dramatically failed to tell the same story. Comparisons between Sierra Burgess and Insatiable are inevitable, and Sierra’s mopey sincerity has a clear advantage when viewed next to Insatiable’s easy, glib cynicism.

But Sierra Burgess also has the deep misfortune of sharing its distributor (Netflix), its genre (trope-driven teen romance), and its romantic lead (Noah Centineo) with the surprise hit of the summer To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And next to the sparkle and tenderness of To All the Boys, poor Sierra is a cold and clumsy mess.

Viewed on its own, without comparisons: Sierra Burgess is a paint-by-numbers teen movie whose admirable sincerity fails to make up for the clumsiness of its craftsmanship, and whose compelling teen girl friendship is marred by the creepiness of its love story. It’s a “watch it from your couch on a rainy Sunday when you have nothing better to do because hey, it’s already on Netflix, so the barrier to entry here is pretty low” kind of a movie. It is mostly, more or less, okay.

Had Sierra been played by anyone other than Shannon Purser, it would have been a total fail. The fact that Purser has some serious onscreen charm is the real reason we feel for Sierra, or at least why we want to. And of course, Centineo is perfectly cast as the cute boy with the heart of gold. Watching Purser and Centineo together, you not only root for them to get to finally share that swoon-inducing kiss, but you also really, really like them both off-screen, too.

OK, so Sierra Burgess Is a Loser isn’t perfect. But, let’s face it, most rom-coms typically aren’t.

OK, so Sierra Burgess Is a Loser isn’t perfect. But, let’s face it, most rom-coms typically aren’t. And while catfishing is definitely not the way to anyone’s heart, the film’s *chef’s kiss*-level acting talent and the deeper message of seeing someone for who they are, not just as they appear, will give you something to cheer for.

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