The Other Zoey Parent Guide
Plot holes and lazy writing take the shine off what could be a fun romantic story.
Parent Movie Review
Romantic love is just an invention of capitalism, and romcoms foster unrealistic expectations. Or so claims Zoey Miller (Josephine Langford), a university student majoring in computer science. All the same, she’s not afraid to try profiting on matchmaking herself when she creates an algorithm that pairs up users based on their common interest. Although her pitch falls on the deaf ears of her fellow classmates, it does uncover one like-minded peer (Archie Renaux).
Yet before Zoey can find out who the handsome stranger is, she collides with Zach MacLaren (Drew Starkey), soccer star and heart throb of the campus community. Unimpressed that his grade point average plays second fiddle to his athleticism, Zoey scarcely gives him a second thought. But she is forced to think about him a lot after she witnesses a bicycle accident that leaves Zach with a concussion. The head injury also makes Zach think Zoey is his girlfriend, because he has been dating another girl named Zoey (Maggie Thurmon).
At first, Zoey plans to set the record straight by telling the truth. However, she is lulled into lying when Zach’s doctor (John Crow) cautions against doing anything that might upset the recovering patient. She continues the deception thanks to a consultation with her roommate (Mallori Johnson), who thinks hanging out with the most popular guy at school might be a fun adventure for the serious Zoey. And she gets completely onboard when she discovers the mysterious man she was originally seeking is Zach’s cousin Miles.
Accepting an invitation to go skiing for the weekend with the MacLaren family, Zoey seizes the opportunity to test her theory about love growing from compatibility (like the interests she shares with Miles) rather than from fickle feelings (such as the undeserved doting she is receiving from Zach). But the experiment doesn’t come off quite as planned…
Nor does the movie. What begins as a promising (though hardly novel) premise turns into an unsustainable idea as the reasons for carrying on the false identity become less and less believable. Considering how smart Zoey’s character is supposed to be, she certainly possesses no great wisdom in her own affairs. This is especially evident as she continues to follow her roommate’s foolish advice. And after all her expressed distain for the sparks of passion, Zoey crashes faster than a faulty hard drive for her two possible love interests.
The script has just as difficult a time finding its place. On the one hand, Zoey and many in the cast behave more like teens than young adults and seem to have little experience stepping beyond platonic relationships. On the other, some characters spout strong profanities, sexual innuendo, and comments about polyamorous relationships, while showing a willingness to jump into sexual situations with strangers. With content too mature for young viewers, and too immature for older ones, it is difficult to know what demographic the film is trying to attract.
Lastly, the screenwriter has taken pains to point out how sentimental, silly, and formulaic romantic comedies can be. Despite these observations, The Other Zoey falls victim to all the tropes that have been criticized. Whether by intention or accident, this cinematic experience follows in the footsteps of other flawed romcoms, doing nothing to convince audiences that this genre can produce anything other than cheese and sentimentality.
Directed by Sara Zandieh. Starring Josephine Langford, Drew Starkey, Archie Renaux. Running time: 91 minutes. Theatrical release October 20, 2023. Updated October 23, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Other Zoey
The Other Zoey
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Other Zoey rated PG-13? The Other Zoey is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language and suggestive references
Violence:: Characters engage in lying, occasionally to protect others, but usually to serve their own best interests. A man on a bike collides with a car, falls onto pavement and is injured. Concussions are depicted and discussed. Characters fall and crash into others while attempting to use a snowboard. Characters are hit in the head by a soccer ball and a snowball.
Sexual Content::An athletic man pulls up his shirt and a woman comments on his bare abdomen. Characters engage in hugs, kisses, and handholding. Sexual banter and innuendo are heard. Female characters flirt and one wears a sexy bathing suit to attract male attention. A character kisses a stranger and further sexual activity between the couple is implied. Characters show little loyalty to their current relationships when other opportunities come along. A character claims to be in a polyamorous relationship while looking to “hook up” with someone new. A lesbian couple is briefly depicted.
Profanity:: A strong sexual expletive is heard three times. The script also contains infrequent use of mild profanity and crude words, and frequent use of scatological slang and almost 20 terms of deity. Characters engage in hurtful gossip and name calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use::
Characters talk about buying booze and drinking at parties.
Page last updated October 23, 2023
The Other Zoey Parents' Guide
This movie tries to examine the secret ingredients in successful matches. What do you feel relationships should be based on? How do compatibility and feelings rank on your scale? What are your personal beliefs about romantic love? What do you think it takes to hold relationships together?
This romcom is full of disparaging remarks about romantic comedies. How do you feel about this genre? What kind of advice did this script offer to improve your love life? Have you ever seen a movie that did provide wisdom for navigating romantic relationships?
Related home video titles:
Another woman gets caught up in a lie in the romcom While You Were Sleeping. A man and a woman, each involved in other relationships, fall in love with each other in A Walk in the Clouds. When a dating app doesn’t provide the promised happy relationship, a client takes them to court in Love, Guaranteed. Tired of being badgered to wed by their parents, a young man and woman pretend to be in love for the duration of the Wedding Season.