Tessa is just an innocent good girl ready to study her way through college like the good girl that she is. But, uh oh! Her first week there she meets bad boy Hardin and he’s destined to change her life. Can she fix the broken bad boy (and perhaps even find love with him) before it’s too late? Find out in… After.
How?! Tessa is a good girl who just wants to study and not party. But when she shows up at college and finds herself with a bad girl roommate her mom is like “no way, what if you become a bad girl?” but Tessa reassures her and goes with the flow. Almost immediately, though, she crosses paths with her roommate’s bad friends, which includes bad boy Hardin. He’s all cool and British and has tattoos and is definitely not Harry Styles. Tessa’s high school boyfriend is also a little concerned, but rolls with it, which is kinda mature of him really. Out of nowhere, Hardin is like “let’s hang out” and they go to a lake and make out and Tessa is all like “woah.” But still Hardin acts all weird when his friends show up so Tessa is still pretty sure he’s bad to the bone. But one night, unfortunately when her boyfriend is visiting, she gets a call that Hardin is having a tough time and when she goes to console him they end up spending the night in each other’s arms (but in a totally innocent way). This of course blows up her relationship with her boyfriend and also with her mom, who demands she stop seeing Hardin or she’ll be disowned. Hardin is like “but I love you” and instead of breaking up they get an off-campus apartment together and totally smooch and love on each other all semester. Eventually, after helping Hardin through his father’s wedding to his new wife, Tessa and him have sex with each other and it’s beautiful and the audience cried. Also at this point we’re like “wait, she’s not a bad girl… instead is he… a good guy?” and we think the answer is yes. Wrong! Because just after that Hardin starts acting weird again and Tessa finds out this entire thing has been a Pygmalion scenario! Oh no! Hardin bet his friends that he could make Tessa fall in love with him. What a bad boy! Tessa once again buckles down, reunites with her mom, and gets a prestigious summer internship. Just as the school year ends she gets an essay written by Hardin where he professes his love and reveals that he’s a good guy after all and they totally smooch by a lake. THE END. Big Question: Is Hardin in fact a good guy or a bad boy? The answer will likely be revealed in one of the several sequels.
Why?! Come on. Love, duh (awwwww). That is the only motivating factor in the entire film for our main two characters. Hardin was damaged by his father’s alcoholism early in his life and so that makes it hard for him to accept love, but Tessa gets him through it. It’s beautiful.
Who?! We get a legit musician-turned-actor in this with Pia Mia making her feature debut as Tristan. She actually released a number of singles this year, but probably her biggest song is still the 1995 song Do It Again. Bitter Love from this year was pretty big though. Probably riding that After wave to success.
What?! None of the usual suspects make an appearance here, which is surprising. The only even mild thing is a Chekov’s game of Truth or Dare, but really isn’t that more an indictment on the predictability of it all? One important note is that this film is based on a book. I listened to seven chapters one day while cleaning my house, naturally, and it is unfortunate. Even more importantly though is that the original version with the Harry Styles main character is still available on Wattpad. So there’s the link so you can never click on it.
Where?! We get a nice shot of downtown Atlanta and then some pretty clear signage around campus regarding Rossmore University of Atlanta where Tessa and Hardin attend. We even get an aquarium date at the famous Georgia Aquarium. Sooooo… why weren’t they slamming refresshing Coca-Cola’s left and right? F… JK, B+.
When?! A little bit of a road trip through time as we pretty clearly ride the emotional roller-coaster that is Tessa’s freshman year at college. The beginning of the film is the first day of school (end of August, likely) and we end at the end of term with her set to intern at Vance Publishing. So wait… are we going to get three more sequels?! Sequels, Please! B.
I actually had my hopes pretty high for this one coming off the BMT success of the Fifty Shades franchise. There were a number of reviews that suggested the film may cross the line in the portrayal of an abusive relationship in a romantic light (which Fifty Shades certainly did), however this turned out to not really be true. Sure both Hardin and Tess have some family issues, but really their relationship isn’t that bad… just immature. You’d think that would mean I was disappointed, but I wasn’t. It is laughable fluff with some really bad acting, a predictable storyline, and a sequel on the horizon. Honestly, who doesn’t like a good girl trying to tame the bad boy story? Always room for a little Dylan-Kelly/Brenda action in my life. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! After I got done watching this film I thought to myself, “this is the craziest Friedberg and Seltzer film I’ve ever seen …” Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – How exactly did we come to a point where we have watched two different romantic dramas based on fanfiction. Sure, Fifty Shades was such a phenomenon you can sometimes forget it was Twilight fanfiction, but this was One Direction fanfiction! What were my expectations? I honestly had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what the storyline of the film was beyond girl-meets-bad-boy even. I could only hope that it would bring me the same delight Midnight Sun did for me last year.
The Good – I genuinely liked the lack of drama they brought to the main character’s non-romantic life. You have a good girl, she doesn’t drink, she doesn’t do drugs, she doesn’t have sex, she’s an academic star. But then, uh oh, she goes to college and meets a bad boy and … well she still doesn’t drink, or do drugs, and is still an academic star. Fine she has sex, but after like months of dating her live-in boyfriend. The lack of drama is definitely a bad thing in areas (we’ll get to that), but I kind of like that they portrayed a young adult’s college love life for what it is: typically not that impactful on your life as a whole. Most people’s college relationships don’t ruin their lives it turns out, no matter how “broken” this British bad boy is. The main actress is good, the vistas are beautiful, and we get a decent message from our main dork Noah which boils down to: “no hard feelings, people change, that’s literally what everyone does in college, being friends is fine”. Despite being a dork Noah is dropping some knowledge on Tessa.
The Bad – No offense to the Fiennes family but Hero doesn’t do it for me in this role. As he growls cliches, and declares that love is dead, I don’t think to myself “look at this tragic broken man, if only a woman would come along and fix his broken heart with her romance” … I instead laugh and wonder whether Fiennes had read the script before taking the role. The lack of drama does feel like it fails when it comes to the main relationship. They are literally soul mates. They are both such extreme literary weirdos in exactly the same way that everyone around them would have been like “kiss already” in real life. He is immediately quoting Wuthering Heights and debating Pride and Prejudice with her, it is crazy. Maybe hide his literary genius for a bit, or give him a crippling vice. As a watered down The Spectacular Now anyways, just make him an alcoholic! Anything! Any drama whatsoever would have been nice before we get to the weird Cruel Intentions rip-off and resolution in the last ten minutes.
The BMT – It didn’t really fit anywhere in the good or bad section … but it is so incredibly predictable that authors who write fanfiction would have a bizarre fascination/love for the book publishing industry. In Fifty Shade where does Anastasia work? A book publishing office. Where does Tessa get an internship at the end of this movie? A book publishing office. I genuinely almost squealed with delight when she walked through that book publishing office door! Last year I said I wanted to watch more RomDrams because I felt like they made me cry instead of allowing me to honestly critique them because I lacked the viewing experience. It looks like we are getting there, because I was laughing throughout this film and found it to be a BMT delight! Looking forward to the sequel. Did it meet my expectations? It surpassed them honestly. This film is a cartoon, and how it revelled in its cliche never failed to make me laugh. “I’m broken” Hardin whispers, and I whisper back, “aren’t we all?”, a tear welling in my eye.
Roast-radamus – You know what? I’m going to give a shout-out to my main dork Noah as a Baxter (Who?). Maybe not a traditional Planchet, but it is kind of close, and the term already exists for romance film. His sole purpose is basically to be dunked on by Hardin’s dumb friends, cheated on, and dumped so that Tessa can get with her bad boy in the end. And a small Worst Twist (How?) for the fairly obvious Cruel Intentions twist thrown in at the very last minute to stir up some late drama. I genuinely think this has a good shot as a Live nomination, at least from me. It was that delightful.
StreetCreditReport.com – I’ve lost a bit of faith with the online worst-of lists. I think I have to wait a bit for something like the A.V. Club to put out a definitive list. That should happen fairly soon, last year the list came out on December 11. For now I’ll just say it’ll definitely be top 5 worst fanfiction adaptations. And I would throw it into the mix for worst Romantic Drama of the decade I think, it is just that amusingly terrible, but I would really have to generate a list to know where it would likely land.
You Just Got Schooled – You’ve heard me talk about it, and yet I had never seen it until now. Cruel Intentions. It is now a cult classic, but was not particularly well received at the time, it seems because it was kind of smarmy? Amazing cast in retrospect. Selma Blair is … quite bad. And so, weirdly, is Phillippe, who is so weird you can’t actually imagine women hopping into bed with him unprompted. But if you look past that the story is amusing. And the ending is actually really shocking and good. It makes the whole ride worthwhile. Basically, the fact that After uses the premise of Cruel Intentions as its twist is almost more insulting given the fact that Cruel Intention’s own twist is so shocking and great. B+. I wish the acting was a bit better, but the film is really fun and the ending is amazing. It puts After to shame.