‘How to Date Billy Walsh’ Is A Dumbed Down And Annoying Throwback

By Lori Meek
Published: April 6, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
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How to Date Billy Walsh Review - Borderline Unwatchable
How to Date Billy Walsh | Image via Prime Video
1.5

Summary

This teen comedy lacks charm or wit, and the endless fourth wall breaking makes it borderline unwatchable.

How to Date Billy Walsh is a Prime Video teen comedy about a boy and the bizarre lengths he goes through to get the girl. The film was directed by Alex Pillai, whose previous directing credits include a handful of episodes of hit series like Bridgerton and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Featuring a slew of bad jokes and a record-breaking number of times characters break the fourth wall, this feature might remind you of the good ol’ days of offensive teen movies from two decades ago.

When the film opens, protagonist Archie (Sebastian Croft) looks slightly worse for wear. He may have been through the wringer, but he goes to Heathbrook Academy’s student ball and walks up on stage, interrupting the singer. A security guard tackles Archie to the ground, but the entertainer takes pity on him and hands him the mic. That’s when a group of bullies throws a delicious-looking cake at Archie’s face. Before being hit by the chocolate dessert, our hero breaks the fourth wall (for the first of many times throughout the movie), and takes us back to where it all began. 

Since being accidentally switched at birth in a hospital, Archie Arnold and Amelia “Millie” Brown (Charithra Chandran) have been the very best of friends. Archie is also hopelessly in love with Amelia but never finds the courage to tell her. On the day he wants to finally confess his feelings, Billy Walsh (Tanner Buchanan), a new student from the U.S., joins their school. 

Billy is cool and an instant hit with all the girls, including Millie, to Archie’s infinite dismay. The more Archie tries to keep her away from Billy, the deeper she falls in love with him. However, the extreme lengths he goes through to separate the two end up risking his entire friendship. 

On the surface, this film is like any other teen movie about a friend-zoned underdog in love with a girl. It plays into its genre’s tropes and sticks to a tried and tested story formula. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, the film does seem to dumb down many of those tropes and adds certain elements that make it borderline unwatchable. 

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why I found this Prime Video flick irritating and hard to get through. It could be the one-dimensional side characters like the mean, mean girl, the gay boy who’s, well, gay, and the foul-mouthed teacher who’s, you’ve guessed it, foul-mouthed. Even the titular Billy Walsh has nothing else going for him than being the heartthrob. Or it could be the never-ending fourth wall breaking. Overused narration can be annoying, but it doesn’t compare with having the lead telling viewers what’s happening on screen every few minutes. 

However, the film’s biggest drawback is how unlikable  Archie is as the protagonist. There’s no point in the 90-minute run where he acts like a person to root for. Archie is a terrible friend to Amelia who cannot express his feelings but has no qualms implying she’s too ugly for her crush. He lives in a mansion, has a driver, and can afford to bribe his way into renting an entire movie theater but feeds viewers a constant stream of woe-is-me. And then there’s the whole plot point where he uses an AI-generated avatar to trick his friend that he’s the “love doctor.” 

How to Date Billy Walsh lacks any of the charm it tries hammering on the audience when Archie addresses them. Archie is a terrible protagonist, Billy Walsh has a single personality trait (he’s the handsome broody type), Amelia is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and the rest of the characters are glorified extras. Needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time with this one. 

Check out my full breakdown of the ending of How to Date Billy Walsh to find out if Archie and Amelia get together. We also explore the filming locations if you’re interested in the background of the production.

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