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Home > Zoey 102 (2023): A Review

Zoey 102 (2023): A Review

Zoey 102 Main Image

A Reunion Full of Nostalgia and Callbacks to the Original

In Zoey 102, Zoey Brooks (Jamie Lynn Spears) is the maid of honor for Quinn (Erin Sanders) and Logan’s (Matthew Underwood) wedding. Feeling like her life since high school hasn’t gone her way, Zoey wants to look perfect, especially in front of Chase (Sean Flynn). So she hires Tom, or whom her friends get to know as “Hugo” (Dean Geyer), to act as her perfect boyfriend. Of course, chaos ensues like it always did in Zoey 101, putting audiences right back into the story 15 years later.

The film is directed by Nancy Hower and written by Monica Sherer and Madeline Whitby, who served as executive producers alongside Alexis Fisher and Spears herself. While Awesomeness Films and Nickelodeon produced it, distributors include the Nickelodeon Network and Paramount+.

Satisfyingly Nuts

Audiences remember Zoey 101 and how crazy things can happen, but viewers play along with it. The same goes for Zoey 102. However, the plot points and character quirks are less childish and crazier from an adult’s standpoint. 

It is important to note that Zoey 102 is a movie, not a series. Therefore, the number of directions, storylines, and characters can go is limited. Nonetheless, a lot is packed into this hour and 41 minutes film. Most notably, Zoey’s insane Wedding Planner-esque plan, by trying to balance Quinn’s wedding with her fake boyfriend and her job. It feels like a long time before Zoey devises this plan, though. Before, a lot of backstory is given, and some of it appears to feel expository. However, the context is necessary to catch everyone up. Maybe it didn’t need to hit the nail on the head that hard. 

This can be noticed throughout the film; some scenes are very long, as if the audience wouldn’t understand what would happen without the extended scene. Then, expecting all scenes to feel like that, other scenes are cut short. While this may throw off the pacing a bit, it becomes much less notable by the film’s second half. The movie is relatively predictable in the first half. However, a little bit past the middle of the film, pretty unexpected plot twists start to come in. They are within reason, and audiences can play along with it. In fact, toward the end of the film, a nostalgic event happens that many may not have expected. 

Most of The Cast is Back – And My Have They Grown! Or Have They?

The characters are now all in their early thirties. Some are married or getting married, and all work full-time. While they are over 15 years out of high school, some of them are missing PCA a little too much. Most notably, Zoey. This is an interesting take on how Zoey appears to be the least happy in her life. Zoey Brooks always seemed perfect in Zoey 101. Everyone seemed like they wanted to be her, but in Zoey 102, it’s as if she wants to be like everyone else. Thankfully, though, this makes Zoey 102 Zoey much more relatable.

Looking back on how “put together” Zoey appeared to be in 101, she was arguably more or less the most “normal” one. This is especially because a lot of her friends had strange hobbies. But in Zoey 102, Quinn’s quirkiness has calmed down a bit, and she is actually less “crazy” than Zoey. Additionally, Quinn is very, very human in this film. In 101, she was made to be someone who doesn’t have very good social skills. While she is not the best at voicing what she wants for her and Logan’s wedding, she is very personable and socially great. 

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Interesting Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is a bit exposition-y, especially regarding the backstory. It can also be very in-your-face when it comes to cringy jokes. Nonetheless, that way of speaking is Nickelodeon’s style, so it may appear as a shock now because audiences are adults watching other adults. Therefore, the on-the-nose lines that were jokey can still be laughed at.

On the other hand, many heartfelt moments are well and uniquely written and expressed by the characters authentically, especially coming from Jamie Lynn Spears, Erin Sanders, and Sean Flynn. Then again, those characters were written to have those touchy moments, while others were there more for fun and games.  

Thrilling Cinematography

The camera angles, shots, color palettes/color, and lighting in this film are great. It’s very much not Zoey 101, but honestly, that’s for the best. After all, films usually require more unique cinematography than shows do, and this film did just that. From the aerial shots off the Pacific Coast Highway to the extravagant views featuring Logan’s mansion, there are many varying and gorgeous locations. There’s always good lighting, so even in the night scenes, it’s not like the audience can’t see anything, which can often happen in other films and be annoying for viewers.

The color choices in the costumes are what really catches the eye. The entire film is very vibrant and has a wide range of colors. However, whenever there is a crowd, everyone appears in relatively neutral or beige/brown shades, so when audiences see something bright, they know it’s Zoey. The way the Zoey 102 theme made this happen while making the whole show very colorful is impressive. 

Watch It For Nostalgia on Any Night

The movie is for old and new fans of the Zoey 101 continuation. There are, of course, a great amount of hidden callbacks to the original show. However, Zoey 102 has a new story ready for all audiences, even those who know nothing about the show. No need to search up what happened in the 101 finale, but it can be fun to (re)discover. If viewers look back at that, it is also recommended to look at a short clip of Chase and Michael eight years after the show ended called “What Did Zoey Say?” It’s about what Zoey said about Chase in a time capsule from PCA. 

Zoey 102 can be watched on Paramount+, a streaming platform with a free week-long trial. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the Movie!

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Zoey 102 (2023) Paramount+ Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Sarah Anna Jonas
Sarah Anna Jonas is a current Writing for Screen & Television BFA at the University of Southern California. She hopes to pursue a career in screenwriting and development for television and film. Her goal is to bring more authentic, diverse stories to the screen in order to inspire social change.