ZOEY 102 (2023)
Release Date: 07/27/23 [Paramount+]
Genre: Comedy. Drama. Family.
Studio: Nickelodeon Studios. Paramount+.
"Follows Zoey Brooks and the rest of the Pacific Coast Academy alumni as they catch up for a wedding in the present day."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Being a now 27 year old adult that grew up with the kids at PCA through the black mirror in my grandma’s living room, sitting uncomfortably on the carpeted floor for hours on end - I took a four season journey with these characters… until it all came to a sudden conclusion. However as memory can be, it can be corrupted by time and nostalgia kicks in as we reflect on our childhood favorites. So when Zoey 102 was announced, it's safe to say that I was eager to see these characters reunited.
While this sequel film, set in the present day with the majority of the cast being now in their early 30s, does in fact reunite them, this reunion is missing a certain spark to set the nostalgia flames ablaze. The cast fully repossesses their fan favorite characters from the initial run, offering very similar performances and chemistry as they did then, also meaning that Jamie Lynn Spears hasn’t grown much as an actor either (she was less than stellar then and she resumes right where she left off). It’s also worth noting that Zoey, Chase (Sean Flynn), Logan (Matthew Underwood), Quinn (Erin Sanders), Mark (Jack Salvatore Jr.), and Stacey (Abbey Wilde) are prominently featured characters, while one could be forgiven for not even remembering Christopher Massey’s Michael was even in the film (even though he’s in a number of scenes) as he’s given notably little to do.
When it comes to Zoey 102’s plot, it’s incredibly lazy and by-the-numbers to an unforgivable degree to reconnect us to these once loved, now forgotten characters. A wedding? And a struggle to manage work with personal plans, while rekindling an old fling… possibly copy + paste from the guidebook of made for tv movies on a certain channel at a certain time of the year. It’s passable, but its weak storytelling limits the nostalgia to merely the characters' interaction and not the actions they’re connecting through.
Where the film shines is in its B-plot with Zoey’s production job dealing with a reality-dating competition contestant, truly soliciting some serious laughter from me - mainly thanks to Thomas Lennon’s wild “showrunner” performance. All the newcomers really rose to the occasion, Zoey’s “love-interest” Todd (Dean Goyer) is hilarious throughout and it’s unfortunate the new arrivals outweigh the returning talent. Zoey 102’s ultimate homecoming attempts to bring all the nostalgic chills, but falls entirely flat. By the film’s close, this sequel feels like it sacrificed everything significant for lackluster fan service.