Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Honor Society is the ultimate in feel-great entertainment, channeling positivity and hopefulness amidst a raunchy R-rated dark comedy exterior. Narrated by lead character Honor (Angourie Rice, Senior Year, The Nice Guys), I found myself instantly drawn into this high school haven. Reliant on situational humor and heart-filled hijinks, Honor Society is far from one’s typical romantic comedy.

Entering her senior year with confidence, Honor is finally on the cusp of fulfilling a four-year culmination of her life’s ambition. Her appearance to others has been carefully curated, which includes being BFFs with the two most popular girls at school, earning perfect grades, starting an online version of the school newspaper, being captain of the volleyball team, running a food bank, and joining the karate club. To Honor, high school is nothing more than a stepping stone to greater things. This translates to a lush acceptance into Harvard, an essential part of Honor’s journey.

Standing in Honor’s way is the questionable decision-making of horny and desperate guidance counselor Mr. Calvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Neighbors, Superbad). Calvin’s closest buddy is a Harvard alumnus, so every year he goes out of his way to “recommend” one student to join the prestigious school’s ranks. Bypassing a slim 4.6% acceptance rate, Calvin has the clout for just one spot. The problem for Honor is that she is in the top four choices. Now, she devises a plan to take down these other three competitors for the spot she has already carved out in her mind—will anyone truly stand in her way?

Here is when Honor Society begins to soar. Beforehand, Honor’s sassy narration and fourth-wall-breaking insight is a quirky window into the high school experience. Once the conniving starts, Honor herself seems to actually be a sweet character. Her manipulations do not appear intended to harm or hurt anyone, and could merely be guiding Honor’s fellow competitors lovingly in the right life directions. Make no mistake, a disastrous turn could easily be taken, yet Honor remains true to herself throughout the film’s breezy runtime.

Travis (Armani Jackson, Cooties, Ready Player One), the hunky star lacrosse player, is dating a girl but secretly closeted, fiercely focused on his grades and trying to impress his coach father. Kennedy (Amy Keum), a cultured blogger who wears costumes to school of strong females throughout history, longs to have her own play performed by the school’s drama club. Once Honor joins up, she puts into motion both a way for Kennedy to channel all her energy into the play, and for Travis to help discover his truest self in acting as one of the romantic leads with the help of the adorable Gary. With these two distracted, Honor’s spot at Harvard seems practically locked.

Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo plays Honor’s biggest competition, Michael, and the immediate target of her ploy for Harvard. Swapping to be Michael’s new lab partner is the easy part; using her femininity to tease and titillate Michael into private tutoring sessions also seems a surefire way to distract him and deter his grades. Honor’s two best friends try to follow Michael home to get a better handle of Michael’s at-home living situation, eventually discovering that he lives in a foster home. Despite insisting early on “you can’t spell sympathetic without pathetic,” Honor nevertheless begins to fall for Michael in spite of herself.

Honor Society is a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of high-school-set comedies. It doesn’t necessarily feel true to the experience itself, but as an exaggerated bit of fun, David A. Goodman’s script soars easily above like-minded films. An ensemble cast crackle with personality, extending all the way to Honor’s off-the-wall bread-obsessed mother. Energetic and entertaining from the very first frame, Honor Society appears destined to capture a huge audience on budding streamer Paramount Plus. What better way to close it out than with a blooper reel celebrating a variety of hilarious gaffes? 

Honor Society aims for Harvard status when it debuts exclusively to Paramount Plus on Friday, July 29th.

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