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Spontaneous review: Is the explosive teen dark comedy worth the watch?

Spontaneous review
Charlie Plummer and Katherine Langford in Spontaneous. Pic credit: Paramount Home Entertainment

It is a shame that the coronavirus pandemic has kept so many great movies from reaching theaters and reaching as many eyes as possible in 2020.

No one might be more affected by this than Charlie Plummer, who has two movies that just hit that are not getting the attention many of them deserve.

The first, which is playing in theaters, is Words on Bathroom Walls (Review), where Plummer plays a young man with mental illness trying to make it through school.

The second movie, which will only get a limited theatrical release before moving on to VOD, is Spontaneous, which he co-stars in with Katherine Langford (Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why).

Spontaneous might be the funniest teen coming-of-age dark comedy since Heathers.

Spontaneous review

In Spontaneous, the plot of the movie seems simple.

Katherine Langford is Mara, a high school senior who is sitting in class one day bored. When she turns her head to look at someone, one of the students in front of her explodes.

As she describes it to her best friend Tess (Hayley Law), it wasn’t like a bomb – it was like a balloon. The girl’s clothes were all in one piece, but there was blood splattered everywhere – the floor, the desk, the students around her, and the ceiling.

When all the students are taken to a room in the school to wait, Mara mentions to her classmates that they have them there to make sure no one else pops.

No one does at that moment, but someone does at a party later that week. Then, more seniors explode, and all the students realize that any day could be their last.

This is where Dylan (Plummer) comes into the picture. He has liked Mara for a long time but never said anything. Now that he realizes he could die at any time, he doesn’t want to waste time anymore, wondering what would happen if he said something.

The two ended up hooking up thanks to their sarcastic sense of humor (he sent her a Dick pic — a picture of Richard Nixon with apologies for it being crooked). The first time they spent together, he held her hair back so she could violently throw up after eating too many ‘shrooms.

Charlie Plummer and Katherine Langford made his movie a delight to watch. Never once did it seem like they were reading lines from a script, and their dialogue was just perfect throughout. Everything with these two seemed so real, which is a testament to the writing and the acting.

They were perfect.

What started as a dark comedy in the vein of Heathers then turned into something with a profound message. What happens when all your friends start dying, and no one knows why or how to stop it?

Spontaneous seems like an allegory for the coronavirus pandemic where friends, family members, and loved ones dying. No one knows how to stop it without quarantining until someone finds a cure.

In the movie, all the kids are in quarantine as the government makes pills to stop the explosions. Unlike the coronavirus quarantines, this does not save the kids. If they are going to explode, they are going to explode.

This fact is even harder on Mara, who sees people online blaming her (she was nearby at every death – but so were all her classmates, who start to blame themselves as well at one point). She is a high school senior dealing with something no teenager should ever have to deal with.

She copes with drugs and alcohol and bursts of anger and frustration, and once again, it all seems real. In 13 Reasons Why, Langford dealt with depression and suicide. Here, she deals with anxiety and the strong desire not to die.

She just knows she doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

Spontaneous final thoughts

While it seems that Spontaneous is an allegory for COVID-19, it is not.

The movie was made in 2018 and is just now being released. It is based on a book that was released in 2016 by Aaron Starmer.

What the kids are going through is strikingly similar to what the world is going through in 2020.

The good news is that this film will not make people anxious about the pandemic more anxious. Instead, this is a riotously funny movie, with some of the best dark humor you will see in a film this year.

It is also profound, as Mara has to deal with her anxiety and fears and does it naturally and reflectively. This is about dealing with the fact that you could die at any moment and deciding what you plan to do about it.

Both Plummer and Langford are fantastic in their roles, and by the end, they make you believe that it is better to live life every day than to hide inside your head.

Spontaneous opened in theaters in limited release on Oct. 2 and hits VOD on Oct. 6.

Shawn S. Lealos has been a freelance writer for 25 years, starting with magazines and newspapers before moving to the internet. He has been published... read more
Shawn S. Lealos

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