Sundance Review: ‘My Old Ass’

Aubrey Plaza Meets Her Younger Self In Megan Park's Coming-Of-Age Comedy

The concept of talking to your younger self is not new. It’s asked in interviews, on personal questionnaires, and in graduation speeches. Director Megan Park took that concept and made her second feature, My Old Ass, where she flips the question and has her young protagonist meet her future self during a night on shrooms. 

We first meet protagonist Elliott (Maisy Stella), as she and her friends Ruthie (Maddie Ziegler) and Ro (Kerrice Brooks) are zipping around Muskoka Lakes, where her parents are second-generation cranberry farmers. Eager to leave for college, she ignores her family and indulges in sex and drugs. During one such evening, while drinking magic mushroom tea in the woods, she meets the 39-year-old version of herself (Aubrey Plaza). Initially shocked, she soon turns disappointed upon learning that she is a PhD student and that she doesn’t have a family like she envisioned. 

Older Elliott instead warns her of a few things: be nicer to her mom, hang out with her brothers, and stay away from someone named Chad (Percy Haynes White). When she slowly falls asleep and back to regular consciousness, Older Elliott puts her number in her phone. As her summer goes on, Elliott tries to heed her older self’s advice, calling in for guidance throughout her summer. 

While Stella and Plaza look nothing alike, their performances blend so well together. The younger Elliott is unafraid, riding teenage emotions like the roller coaster they are. Stella plays her character with a twinkle in her eye and a confident excitement. Though she had a regular role on the nighttime soap Nashville, it was sure to be a breakout role for her. 

Plaza, on the other hand, is not in My Old Ass as much as you’d expect. Instead of a two-hour conversation piece in the same vein as My Dinner With Andre, we get small smatterings of her here and there. But when she’s on screen, she’s a delight. Funny and charming, Plaza delivers a slightly tender performance like we’ve never seen from her before. She treats the older version of Elliott like the cool older sister or cousin, wise yet sarcastic and always protective. Sure, there are iterations of her past characters thrown in there, April from Parks and Recreation or Harper from The White Lotus come to mind, but there’s a sweetness to older Elliot that only Plaza can bring. 

Park leans into many time travel/loophole tropes and uses them to her advantage. Older Elliott never goes in-depth about her current reality, instead dropping tiny little hints about how resource-strapped the future is (Say goodbye to salmon guys). Though Plaza’s character provides comic relief, parts of Park’s script could be funnier. The director proved her dramatic chops with her last feature The Fallout, which combined a coming-of-age story with the examination of a school shooting. Here, especially with this cast, I expected more levity. 

My Old Ass feels like the coming-of-age films that have been coming out of the Sundance Film Festival for years. Park’s direction and plot don’t convulute her message and she keeps the story simple. The ending is what you’d expect it to be, but that doesn’t negate the sweet relationship Plaza and Stella have built on screen.

'My Old Ass'
Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
sundance-review-my-old-assAubrey Plaza meets her younger self in this sweet, funny coming of age story.