I saw #RealityHigh pop up while scrolling through Netflix last night and decided to view it out of curiosity. The story follows high school senior Dani Barnes, a modest girl who cares about one thing and that’s the health and well being of dogs. Dani is low on the social radar until she’s pulled into the world of social media by showing interest in the ex boyfriend of her local social media star classmate Alexa.
Spoilers from this point on, really like most highschool stories, this is kind of predictable.
Yes that brief bold sentence is right; if you’ve seen any movies about kids in highschool (particularly Mean Girls), then you know what will happen. “Girl is ‘ugly’, has one best friend, gets noticed by cute guy, becomes popular and irresponsible, makes big mistake, has fight with best friend, fixes everything, jackass rival gets comeuppance, HAPPY ENDINGS FOR EVERYONE!”
There are select variations in the plot of this movie, but nothing that hasn’t been seen in a teen movie. The main premise of this movie is that Dani’s school rival isn’t just any old mean girl, she is a social media celebrity known as Alexa Medina. Alexa is known for her vlogs, fashion tips, life tips, and being a saint online by promoting positive body images and other social justice issues. In real life Alexa is manipulative and selfish and spends her time using her star status to get what she wants. She’s kind of like an evil Michelle Phan (yes I’m aware there is someone who runs a tumblr dedicated to finding each and every flaw with Michelle phan, we are not opening that can of worms.)
The interesting approach this movie has is how social media and Alexa’s status as a online celebrity plays affects Dani’s life as someone who wasn’t on social media.
Dani had nearly no online presence and was one of the few teenagers using a flip phone instead of a smartphone. Things change as soon as Dani falls for Alexa’s ex boyfriend, just like in Mean Girls. Dani hangs out with the popular kids, begins to upgrade her fashion and briefly puts her responsibilities secondary in life. Things go predictably south for Dani after Alexa gets her drunk and secretly records a conversation between the two later editing the video recording to make Dani look like she had been stalking Alexa.
This knocks Dani down and has her realize that Alexa had been manipulating her own life to throw her off tracks. A key difference between this film and other teen films is that as soon as mutual friends between Alexa and Dani see the youtube video, they are pissed at the way Alexa used Dani and proceed to unfriend Alexa on on social media and in real life.
Dani proceeds to do a livestream explaining she doesn’t care what people think of her, and only asks for people bothering to watch her live stream help with a animal clinic charity. Said stream is successful, partially because of some networking between some other (fictional) YouTube celebrities who also love animals.
Everyone more or less gets a happy ending, Alexa is outed as a fake with some help from Dani’s sister, and is also exposed to somehow faking her youtube views. Everyone but Alexa is happy by the end of the film.
I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, and I still ended up disappointed. I feel like there was more potential for the movie concerning the villain being a social media celebrity who constantly used her celebrity status to get perks in her life and look like the victim whenever things didn’t go her way.
As I pointed out this is a movie with a highschool setting, but nearly everything in the plot feels borrowed from other highschool movies. As I also mentioned before the plot is very similar to the plot of Mean Girls; there are even times when I’m not even sure if portions of the plot are shout outs to other (better) movies, parodies, or the possibility of creating a drinking game for people watching the movie.
I give Netflix’s #RealityHigh two blackberries out of five.