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‘This Is the Year’, An Entertaining Lighthearted Teen Romcom

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Coming of Age Film Has Several Low Country Ties

Jeff Walker, Entertainment Review

Shot in 2020 and released in August of 2021 ‘This Is the Year’ tries to recapture the spirit that late film-maker John Hughes conveyed with several of his coming of age teen movies during the 1980’s. By all accounts Hughes set the standard with classics such as ‘Pretty In Pink’, ‘The Breakfast Club’, and ‘Sixteen Candles’ all starring his teenage muse Molly Ringwald.

Fast forward 35 years and ‘This Is the Year’ is hoping to have similar success. Produced in partnership with American singer and actress Selena Gomez, ‘This Is the Year’ has low country ties with Daniel Island resident and entrepreneur Denis Gallagher, as well as Doug Coupe of BOLD Entertainment, and Novo Media Group acting as co-producers. The film marks the directorial debut for television and film actor David Henrie, with David’s brother Lorenzo Henrie as one of the lead actors in the movie.

The storyline is familiar. Soft-spoken nerd Josh (Lorenzo) has been carrying a torch for Zoey (Alyssa Jirrels) their entire senior year, only to discover she’s about graduate early and head to Los Angeles. Will his love go unrequited. Josh’ two best friends are Zoey’s cousin Mikey (Jake Short) and Molly (Vanessa Marano), both fully aware of Josh’ singular fixation, with one having a bit more vested interest in the outcome.

Can a last minute road trip in a broken down food truck, complete with Mikey’s brother Donnie (Bug Hall), to a music festival wrapped around a lie open Zoey’s eyes, or will fireworks and pop music from Lovelytheband help the quintet each realize their true destinies.

In a smaller role, veteran television actor Jeff Garlin (The Goldberg’s, Curb Your Enthusiasm) does a remarkable job as Mr. Elmer, a gruff teacher trying desperately to get Josh to complete a term paper recapping his final year in high school. British born actor Gregg Sulkin is equally well cast as Zoey’s hunky yet aloof and brooding boyfriend Kale. The principal cast all come with healthy acting resumes.  David Henrie was the films head writer with Sienna Aquilini, Bug Hall, and Pepe Portillo assisting.

A recent ‘Red Carpet Premier’ (Sept 24th) at the Terrace Theater on James Island, with the Henrie brothers and several of the local producers in attendance proved favorable, with audience members giving it a resounding ‘thumbs up’. Parents praised the film for portraying teen life without gratuitous content, with one parent adding it reminded her of when she went to the movies in the 1980’s.

Movie buffs might recall, the great John Hughes was just 33 when he directed ‘Sixteen Candles’ and if ‘This Is the Year’ is any indication of David Henrie’s future, than the 32 actor, producer, and writer may have a long career calling the shots behind the camera.

While ‘This Is the Year’ pays homage to the 1980’s era, it does so with a twist, allowing that teenage girls don’t necessarily have to play naive or dumb blonde roles. ‘This Is the Year’ is a smart, light-hearted, family friendly teenage romcom. It’s the kind of movie you can take your kids and their grandparents to, free of sexual innuendo and obscenity. That alone is refreshing in this day and age. The film is set for wide release soon and is available on several streaming formats.

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