This post may contain affiliate links and spoilers. Please read our disclosure policy.
XOXO is a cute love story with a backdrop of rave culture and is filled with so many lovable eccentric characters.
Characters Worth Noting
Krystal (Sarah Hyland) | Ethan (Graham Phillips) | Tariq (Brett DelBuono) | Shannie (Hayley Kiyoko) | Ray (Colin Woodell) | Neil (Chris D’Elia)
Ethan is barely out of high school, but thanks to him having a EDM track go viral on YouTube, and thanks to his amateur manager/ best friend Tariq, he is going to part of the XOXO music festival. Though problems arise as Tariq is asked by his dad to work extra shifts, forcing Ethan to make the journey alone. Then there is an issue of getting in since Tariq didn’t give Ethan credentials. But, thankfully, a couple named Shannie and Ray offer one of their tickets. Leading to the couple who are avoiding a conversation about their future forced to address the issues. But while Ethan ventures toward his set, and Tariq tries to venture toward the venue, there is also Neil who is trying to confront his past in which his attempt to get into the music scene was abruptly halted.
Leaving us with a film which is essentially about how music not only brings people together but heals old wounds.
Now, before I make it seem this movie is the best thing out there, let me be upfront and let you know this isn’t like a Grade A or 5-star movie. The main characters are all likable, cute and weird, and for the most part, are given flaws and something that can hook you, but they aren’t overly complicated. Like Ethan and Tariq, for example. Ethan wants to be a DJ and his friend Tariq his manager. Just saying that, it may lead you to think of that Zac Efron movie which came and went.
However, there is more to Ethan and Tariq than their desire to be in music. Granted, it isn’t huge, but it can maybe get you emotional. Take Ethan. In his pursuit of music, doing mostly EDM tracks without vocals, he becomes famous for this one track. However, for this EP he is trying to make, he is using his mom’s vocals. Something she is excited about because when she gave birth to Ethan, I believe around 18, she gave up on her dreams of becoming a singer. So this gift he is giving her, reviving her dreams and having her come along on this ride he is on, is sweet to the point of tears. Tariq even has a bit of a sob story too. His dad is a Lebanese immigrant and of course, he has that mentality of Tariq having stable work, taking over the family business, and Tariq feels a bit guilty for wanting to pursue his own dreams instead of continuing his father’s, especially due to cultural reasons. And with those two, and the dreams and fears of the others, you get much more than you expect you would.
Like, just to wrap up this commentary bit, the topic of love is a strong focus when it comes to Krystal, Neil, and Sammie/ Ray’s storyline. Neil had something he loved stolen from him and he became an utter shell because of it. Then with Sammie and Ray, they are such a cute couple, but they are a cute young couple. One in which adulthood is approaching and with Sammie soon to be on a different coast, seeing the possible breakdown of their relationship was just hard. For while, again, no one is winning Oscars here, seeing these lovable weird people on the brink of heartbreak affects you. Even when it comes to Krystal, who spends most of the time in the movie with her annoying friends in pursuit of this guy she never met. Hyland’s big Diana Ross like eyes make it so you are hoping this love she believes in she’ll find by the movie’s end. For, pretty much, no matter the character, and even with the very little we learn about them, before the movie is over all you want is to see them fall back in love with music and all the feelings music brings.
Usually, I want a massive amount of details about characters for I assume that is what is needed in order to connect with them. However, with this film that wasn’t necessary. In the film, you get either a person’s motivation or we learn of a major issue in their life. From there, we watch them struggle to reach the happiness the festival can bring them and then it is over. Yet, despite a simple formula, the movie gets you hooked on these characters and even without taking a single drug, you get this peaceful, happy, and loving vibe watching them pursue their own individual, or group, happiness.
If a person were to watch this movie and judge it with comparisons, or high expectations, in their brain, I can foresee them not thinking much of the film. While I enjoy the simplicity, others may say this movie is just about flashing lights, some generic sounding EDM music, and a weak plot spread thin between a bunch of characters.
On The Fence
Again, while I like the simplicity, another thing which could bring negative vibes is that while most of the cast are facing something serious, be it broken dreams, the possibility of losing someone you love, and things of that nature, Krystal’s plot is a bit weak in comparison. She is trying to meet a boy, someone who she makes out to be her soul mate, while everyone else is dealing with stuff which will majorly effect their life. So, I can imagine some feeling Krystal got off easy and didn’t get real problems.