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‘NOT OKAY’ Movie: The Glittery & Horrific Outcome of a Social Media Lie

Have you ever met a character that is just unredeemable? All of their actions feel like a slap in the face? Meet Danni, a character that’ll make you board the hate train the minute she steps on screen in Searchlight Picture’s new movie NOT OKAY.

Although it’s fun and easy to cancel a character, NOT OKAY presents more. It feeds us a reflection of what our society is and what we could be.

What is the NOT OKAY movie about?

Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) is an aspiring writer desperate for friends and fame. To impress her work crush Colin (Dylan O’Brien) and upgrade her social media presence, she fakes a trip to Paris. When a catastrophic event happens in Paris, Danni becomes entangled in a lie she won’t fix. 

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The cast includes Mia Isaac, Embeth Davidtz, Karan Soni, Brennan Brown, and Nadia Alexander, with direction by Quinn Shepard.

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Dylan O’Brien and Zoey Deutch in the film NOT OKAY./ CREDIT: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

NOT OKAY movie trailer

The teaser trailer first introduces us to the film with words behind a red screen. “WARNING,” it reads. “THIS FILM CONTAINS A UNLIKABLE FEMALE PROTAGONIST. VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.”

What follows is a sequence of brief scenes from Danni’s tears, her plotting her social media scheme, news clips, and TikToks shaming her. We’re in for a wild ride of Gen Z culture and the over-saturation of social media.

Zoey Deutch’s Danni is god-awful, and it’s amazing

When we first meet Danni, she’s a lonely, sad person gripping at straws for some kind of attention. Her pet guinea pig and piles of take-out food are the only things keeping her company. She’s not likable from the beginning, and it only gets worse from there. Out-of-touch, ignorant, vapid, and privileged would probably be the best words to describe her.

Zoey Deutch plays Danni to the extreme— a “zillennial” trying to fit in with the modern Gen Z crowd. Whether it’s speaking in a high-pitched, drawn-out tone, throwing out random terms like “Queen,” or awkwardly using TikTok trends in real life, she is always acting. Zoey succeeds at the task of portraying a young woman portraying an idealized version of herself to the public, even though that version of herself is terrible. You could almost compare Danni to Zoey’s Zombieland Valley-Girl character Madison. They both love 2000s fashion and have little sense, but at least Madison has got some cuteness and heart to her.

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Zoey Deutch in the film NOT OKAY./ CREDIT: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

It’s not easy being a hated character; most actors aren’t wishing for that when they read a script. However, when you can’t stand a character that much (like how I cringe around Danni) doesn’t that show how skilled the actor is?

Zoey does throw a bit of humility into Danni in certain moments, with her playfulness and sisterly guidance when spending time with anti-gun activist Rowan. It makes her prior actions harder to bear. 

Mia Issac is a breakout star

While I loved to hate Dylan O’Brien’s stereotypical vape alt king Colin, my focus was directed on Mia’s Issac’s Rowan. The young activist brought anger, grief, and honesty to a character painted as a strong, take no crap leader. 

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Mia Isaac in the film NOT OKAY./ CREDIT: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

My gaze stayed on her face throughout all of her scenes. One moment of intensity as she scrunched her face quickly turned into a twist of fear or tears. Behind all of the movement, Rowan is a kid who had her innocence taken from her. 

I can’t wait to see Mia’s career soar. Currently, you can watch her in the Amazon Prime film Don’t Make Me Go with Jon Chu

Costumes act as a critical point

Danni’s fashion shifts the movie along, representing her opinions about herself. Starting in sweats, she pities herself and her status.

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Zoey Deutch in the film NOT OKAY./ CREDIT: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

As she gains popularity, though, her style morphs into a hybrid of 2000s and ‘90s fashion, with a touch of modernism. Danni rocks cropped bright colored plaid shirts, high-waisted jeans and printed paints, and a skin-tight crazy patterned dress. Her confidence peaks in all these clothes, but it’s just a facade.

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(From L-R): Kirk White, Zoey Deutch and Mia Isaac in the film NOT OKAY./ CREDIT: Nicole Rivelli. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

As a fellow Gen Zer, I am a big fan of this movie’s costume department as all of the bright colors remind me of my wardrobe. Is that a good or bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. 

NOT OKAY ends in a frustrating, unsettling way

NOT OKAY has its comical moments from my own painful second-hand embarrassment watching Danni and lines like “I hate straight people.” It’s also deeply depressing. The film trapped me in this idea that we’re all just waiting for that next “like” or viral video to make us feel something. Cue Danni commenting “Skin goals” as she watches videos of Rowan’s protests. Are we all that desensitized to tragedies because of how much we see or face them every day? 

While characters like Danni and Colin are caricatures of current trends in pop culture, each of us can see a little bit of them in us. Like Danni and her Paris photoshop skills, our social media feeds are curated the way we want. It’s an inorganic setup as the lines between what is real and fake blur.

This is not a heartwarming story. Satires rarely are. This is a story of a young woman hitting rock bottom for the consequences of her actions. Something that could happen to any of us. 

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Mia Isaac and Zoey Deutch in the film NOT OKAY./ CREDIT: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

NOT OKAY movie release date

NOT OKAY drops on Hulu on July 29. 

Will you watch the NOT OKAY movie when it hits streaming? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter

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