Movie Review: Hulu’s “Crush” is a Well-Intentioned Same-Sex Rom-Com That’s Too Underdeveloped to Feel Meaningful

The structure of a romantic comedy is typically “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back.” The same can be applied to Crush, a Hulu original that premieres April 29th, albeit a same-sex equivalent. In this case, it's girl meets girl, girl loses girl, girl wins girl back. A mainstream LGBTQ+ streaming release, Crush is sure to be meaningful to a lot of viewers, but the film loses its way while adhering to a comfort-food format.

(Brett Roedel/Hulu)

(Brett Roedel/Hulu)

Paige (Rowan Blanchard, Girl Meets World) is an artistic high school junior with her sights set on a summer CalArts program. When a mysterious artist begins leaving humorous art prints around campus under the pseudonym King Pun, Paige gets blamed and risks losing her chance at the summer program unless she joins the track team, which is in need of one additional player to keep their head count. Joining the team puts Paige close to her crush Gabriela (Isabella Ferreira, Love, Victor), who she has a hard time keeping her cool around. But as Paige gets more involved with the track team, she finds that her real soul mate might be Gabriela’s sister AJ (Auli'i Cravalho, Moana).

The core of the story is a love triangle between Paige, who has unreturned affection for Gabriela, whose sister AJ has a secret crush on Paige. The film only pairs Paige up with one of the girls and typically these types of stories would match the protagonist with their crush, only to give them a valid reason for losing interest in them. In a typical high school rom-com, the protagonist realizes they’re best friend is actually the love of their life. Having AJ come from outside of Paige’s friend group is probably a little more true to life, but narratively gives it a lesser impact. With Crush, there’s also never a clear moment where Paige’s interest flips from Garbriela to AJ and it feels like an opportunity was missed for her to have been conflicted between liking both of them and not knowing who to choose, which would’ve given the film some much-needed tension.

Crush spends a lot of its 90-minute run time padding Paige’s world with one-dimensional side characters. There’s Paige’s best friend who is singularly focused on his girlfriend and campaign for student president. Paige’s mom, played by Megan Mullally, is so overly sex-positive that it becomes her dominating characteristic. It’s a confusing role for a comedy legend like Mullally to take on since, aside from a few moments of support for her lesbian daughter, she otherwise comes across as a bad influence. And while there’s no real villain to speak of, Michelle Buteau as the school principal is representative of a theme of incompetent adults throughout the film, a character willing to place the blame for vandalism on a student with no evidence other than they happen to be an artist, and a character who also spends all of her work time focusing on her summer renaissance fair plans. These unfunny moments take up a lot of time, lose track of the film’s plot, and ultimately drag the whole film down.

At the center of Crush is a story that LGBTQ+ youth can look to for inspiration. Paige never confronts any homophobia in the film and is never othered by her sexuality, making it an escape from reality for the target demographic of teenage viewers. But at the same time, the film plays like a PG-13 Disney Channel Original Movie. Ultimately, the stakes are too low to care about, the characters feel underdeveloped, and the romance isn’t particularly memorable.

I give Crush 2 out of 5 artistic puns.

Crush premieres Friday, April 29th on Hulu.

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