Friday Night Plan movie review: Too clean for a teen film

Friday Night Plan movie review: Too clean for a teen film

Babil Khan is nervous but adorable in his second Netflix outing
Rating:(2.5 / 5)

It’s a bit difficult to relate with Excel Entertainment’s version of coming-of-age cinema. Let’s face it, for most of us our bachelor party won’t be in Spain (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) and nobody leaves for Goa on a whim (Dil Chahta Hai), even if you live in Mumbai. This is not to say that there is no connection with the characters or their journeys. It’s just that these stories are more aspirational than relatable. The ordeal the characters find themselves in runs the risk of being labelled as first-world problems. While watching their latest outing, Friday Night Plan, helmed by debutant director Vatsal Neelakantan, I kept on hoping for it to strike a chord with me. For it to take me back to my own teenage years, the pressures of board exams, the haywire hormones, the incessant need to be accepted among some coveted groups and in colleges. Sadly, what I got was a Disneyfied teen dramedy, shown in a rather American lens. Do kids these days really play beer pong at parties?

Cast: Babil Khan, Juhi Chawla, Ninad Kamat, Amrith Jayan

Director: Vatsal Neelakantan

Streamer: Netflix

After scoring a winning goal by fluke at a football match, the rather nerdy and nobody Siddharth Menon aka Sid (a nervous but adorable Babil Khan) becomes the new popular guy at school. He gets an invite for the “Friday Night Plan” (FNP as the kids call it these days), which is basically an after-school party on a Friday. Sid has an overly enthusiastic younger brother Aditya aka Adi (an entertaining Amrith Jayan) who is desperate to attend. Their single mother (a bit too angelic Juhi Chawla) is out of town, the party is at Sid’s crush’s house, and they also have the car to themselves. What would the brothers do?

What is endearing about Friday Night Plan is that it is honest and innocent. It might be true in depicting the world of sanitized IB schools, where no student has pimples or braces, but it falters when it comes to exploring the uncertainty of youth. For Babil’s Sid, the only dilemma is to choose a college and that too his options range from the US to Africa. There is some thoughtful writing, depicting the relationship between him and his brother and their contrasting personalities. After losing their father, while Sid became the responsible elder brother, Adi is trying to find solace in being carefree. “You used to be fun… but after Dad you became so cynical,” he tells Sid during an altercation.

The fun bits feel a bit too safe. For two high school kids who have gotten the car out for the first time, the worst that happens is that it gets towed because they accidentally threw an egg at a cop. The policeman, played by Ninad Kamat, is as terrifying as a Looney Toons villain. I kept on wondering what worse could have happened? Would they have gotten into an accident? Probably Adi could have gotten too drunk and had to be dragged back home before their mother reaches? Could they have broken an expensive vase at the host’s house and then had to cover it up? Maybe they were caught by the cop and had to escape from the jail? The what-ifs could be endless but the what-is is rather plain, sometimes too sweet and always mellow.

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