Bullying is a serious issue, and there have been plenty of attempts to create films that examine this issue, including documentaries like the critically acclaimed Bully. Unfortunately, A Girl Like Her adds nothing to the conversation. Relying on a documentary format while telling a fictional story, A Girl Like Her is as tone-deaf and cliché-ridden a message film as I’ve ever seen.
A Girl Like Her focuses on the relationship between former best friends Jessica (Lexi Ainsworth), a quiet and introverted brunette, and Avery (Hunter King), the blonde and overly made-up popular blonde. (Oh, the stereotypical high school girls. Check.) Avery’s antagonistic behavior towards Jessica have pushed Jessica to the point of a suicide attempt. At the same time, a documentary crew has come to their high school, which was recently named one of the best high schools in the country. The filmmakers decide to make their film about Jessica’s suicide attempt and the causes behind it, and they’re able to get everyone to agree to it.
That includes, by the way, Jessica’s parents, who seem to have no problem letting the crew in their lives while Jessica lying in a coma in a hospital bed. That also includes Avery’s family, who don’t seem to notice the cameras that are around when they fight amongst each other.
I believe that writer/director Amy S. Weber wanted to honestly contribute to the current conversation about bullying, and she seems to want to note how, as one parent puts it, hurt kids hurt other kids. But her approach is wrong. Setting up the documentary format, as a way of telling one story that’s “inspired” by millions more, doesn’t make this into something that feels authentic. If anything, between the faux doc approach and the reliance on improvised dialogue from the actors, A Girl Like Me comes across as being as authentic as an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And for something about a subject matter as serious as bullying, that’s unacceptable.
A Girl Like Her • Rating: PG-13 (for disturbing thematic material involving teens, and for language) • Runtime: 92 minutes • Genre: Drama • Cast: Hunter King, Lexi Ainsworth, Jimmy Bennett • Director: Amy S. Weber • Writer: Amy S. Weber • Distributor: Parkside Releasing