Every so often, there comes a young adult film that leaves its mark as a delightful coming-of-age story. We’ve seen this with Pretty in Pink and most recently Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s usually because they contain a certain level of authenticity to them; they manage to be heartfelt while maintaining a raw level of honesty. Crush is one of those films.
Like Love, Simon before it, Crush is a long overdue young adult dramedy that tells the story of Paige, a socially awkward artist, forced to join her high school’s track team to avoid suspension. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because the concept is ridiculous, and yet it works. Crush manages to be charming, funny, heartbreaking, and honest. The best thing about Crush is that it feels like a film that’ll find a long life for movie fans because it is the type of film young audiences have needed.
Rowan Blanchard and Auli’i Cravalho, who are both members of the LGBTQ+ community, star in this delightful rom-com as Paige and AJ, respectively. Paige is an out and proud lesbian, while AJ is the mysterious bisexual twin sister of Gabby, Paige’s longtime crush. They’ve barely interacted, but soon find themselves thrown together to train, with AJ being instructed to ready Paige for track. What ensues is a chaotic story about first loves and heartache. Both actors are great in their roles, especially Blanchard, who gives it her all as the socially awkward Paige, but they shine most when they share the screen together.
And while the young cast steals the film, it’s hard not to highlight the performances of Megan Mullally, Aasif Mandvi, and Michelle Buteau. The always fantastic Mullally plays an incredibly supportive mother to Blanchard’s Paige. She’s a woman who believes sex positivity is important to teach and has always accepted her daughter for who she is – although sometimes she can be a bit too supportive. While Mandvi is the track coach, who nearly regrets putting Paige on the team until he meets her mom. Every interaction between Mullally and Mandvi is absurdly wonderful, but the best adult performance belongs to Buteau. She has limited screen time, but Buteau delivers some of the best lines throughout the film.
Is Crush awards worthy? No, not at all. Does it deserve its spot at the table with films like Pretty in Pink and Love, Simon? Absolutely. Crush is a darling young adult film that pulls at the heartstrings for all the right reasons.
If you need another reason to give Crush a chance: Natasha Lyonne, who starred in the classic But I’m a Cheerleader and currently stars in Netflix’s Russian Doll, is one of the producers on this film.