Megan Park’s second feature, My Old Ass, is yet another great encapsulation of teenagers going through unique circumstances.
My Old Ass captures a feeling that I’m unsure if I’ve experienced before. The film follows Elliot (Maisy Stella) who is about to leave her home for the first time in three weeks for college. On her 18th birthday, she takes mushrooms, and, on her trip, she encounters her older self from the future (Aubrey Plaza) who gives her some advice. After that eventful night, she starts to reconsider how she’ll spend her last few weeks at home.
Megan Park’s first feature, The Fallout, is a personal favorite of mine, so my expectations for My Old Ass were considerably high and luckily, the film greatly delivered. Park proves that she is a master of Gen Z dialogue, with this wonderfully sweet screenplay. I identify as a liberal young adult, similarly to the majority of My Old Ass’ cast, and this was one of the first times where, if my friends had made the same jokes as these characters, it would have been totally believable.
Speaking of the cast, the teenagers we get to hang out with in this film are all a delight. Maisy Stella should be at the top of every casting director’s list: her performance as Elliot is truly a star making turn. She has this unapologetic yet sentimental nature, which makes her such a great lead to follow for 90 minutes. Stella’s chemistry with her love interest Percy Hynes White is full of youthful energy that’s extremely infectious as well. Her two best friends Ruthie (Maddie Ziegler) and Ro (Kerrice Brooks) round out this teen ensemble keeping the comedy consistent, especially during the mushroom trip scene.
Aubrey Plaza once again proves that she is one of the best working actresses today, stealing every scene she’s in, even if she’s just on the phone. Interacting with your older self would provide a lot of shock to anyone, and the way both Plaza and Stella navigate those scenes is both funny and comforting. During the initial scene where these two meet, older Elliot shares that life may not be as happy and optimistic as she hoped, and that she should really cherish her time at home, especially with her family. As someone who will be going through a lot of life changes in the next few months – such as potentially moving across the country and seeing older members of my family increasingly less – the overarching message of preserving what you have while you have it hit home.
Older Elliot says to her younger self: “the only thing you don’t get back is time,” and just hearing those words makes me extremely emotional. It is a very tough balance to be simultaneously excited for your future and mournful of your childhood, especially when you are moving far away from home, and Park masterfully conveys these emotions with such empathy. I can imagine teenagers will see this before they head to school and will find My Old Ass therapeutic, and I’m very grateful that a film like this was made.
While the emotional message of this film is undeniably powerful, when the third act begins, My Old Ass starts to lean into some different themes such as love and grief. Since the beginning of the movie was near perfect, I felt that the last half hour didn’t land as strongly on an emotional scale. The narrative never slows down, but I wasn’t as wrapped up in Elliot’s story when the credits rolled as I was at the start.
Even with this flaw, My Old Ass is an absolutely wonderful watch. Megan Park made this film for Gen Z, and you can feel her intentions in every scene. There is a surprise sequence that involves Justin Bieber in some capacity that’s so funny that it’ll be hard for any other scene to be my favorite of the year. Watching My Old Ass has the perfect blend of laugh out loud comedy and genuine emotion, and has the capability to touch the hearts of many. Even though it’s extremely unlikely that I will experience anything like Elliot does, watching her journey felt healing to my past and future self, and I’m sure it’ll do the same for audiences as well.