XOXO Review - A Psychedelic, Heartwarming, Trip

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XOXO, a Netflix original film, presents a modern romance against the backdrop of a SoCal mega Rave festival filled with near misses, close encounters of the Coachella kind, vibrant, fluorescent winter gardens and the magic of music.

Directed and co-written by Christopher Louie, XOXO stars Sarah Hyland as Krystal and Graham Phillips as Ethan and also stars Brett DelBuono as Tariq, Chris D'Elia as Neil, Ian Anthony Dale as Anders and Ryan Hansen as Avilo with Ione Skye as Ethan's Mom. XOXO was also written by Dylan Meyer.

XOXO is written to incorporate six different stories, vignettes, weaving together our main characters who throughout the preparation, road trip, wild day and into the evening's performances work out their individual dilemmas and end up all meeting and through the magic of the night, the music, the time, event or the power of the groove work everything out.

We meet Krystal played by Sarah Hyland, preparing for her first in person meeting with the guy she has been texting and "getting to know" through IM's and text dating. She and two of her friends, Darla played by Brianne Howey and Nikki played by Medalion Rahimi, are headed to the Coachella style mega Rave festival where, among the psychedelic gardens, DJ techno concerts, and other wild cosmic light shows, friendships bloom.

We meet our next couple Shannie, played by Hayley Kiyoko, and Ray, played Colin Woodell, trying to figure out tomorrow and spending this one last romantic night together as she is heading to NYU in the morning and the two have been dealing with separating or doing the "long distance thing" and just decided to forget that tomorrow exists and spend the day absorbed at XOXO.

The two ride the party bus with Ethan and as he is not on the "list" a little detail his manager forgot he is regulated to buying a ticket to a sold out concert where he is on the bill.

The day begins for Ethan, played by Graham Phillips, with a phone call from his agent/manager Tariq, played by Brett DelBuono, telling him he scored him a gig at only the hottest ticket in town, the XOXO Rave and he has four hours to get there. 

Unfortunately, he'll have to get there alone as Tariq still obligated to culture and custom is helping his day out in the family business. Breaking away as everyone seems to be finding out is difficult.

Operating the party bus Neil, played by Chris D'Elia, an old school music guy with a record shop that is going out of business and with a nerd assistant, he is taking a group of kids to the XOXO Rave. His story unfolds throughout the film and it isn't until the end that his cool comes back.

Krystal, still very much caught up in her IM mystery friend, is losing power on her phone as the messaging and power grid flash on the screen in IPhone styling, she is off finding an outlet where she meets several people. The most interesting Anders, played by Ian Anthony Dale, who tries to explain a little of life on the dating super highway. She, of course is very much devoted to the potential of the mystery man ignores most of the suggestions.  

She and her friends score VIP access and suddenly her two friends meet the manager Chopper, played by LaMonica Garrett, for XOXO headliner, Avilo played by Ryan Hansen, are ready for the full on XOXO party. Drinking shots, getting more than a little tipsy and meeting celebrities are what our party girls are living for, at least today.

Throughout the XOXO, Krystal is texting "Where R U?" to the IM mystery man for the most of the film, while having these serendipitous meetings with Ethan who is a known YouTube star and DJ, and Anders, all the while she remains devoted to the words in the IM que.

Ethan's Manager Tariq finally arrives and is immediately kissed by an acid dropping butterfly Rave girl, who with a tab on her tongue passes the effects to each man she kisses and she is making the rounds. Suddenly our man Tariq is tripping and it is not pretty.

Our group of six main characters, Krystal, Ethan, Tariq, Shannie, Ray and Neil have spent the day moving in and out through the crowd, the near misses, almost encounters until the end when after some very harrowing experiences they, unknown to each other as the day began, reunite and become.

I enjoyed XOXO. The film is vibrant look at modern culture. The Rave, a Coachella style festival, has something for everyone and with every generation, the children of the 1960's had Woodstock, the Millennials, have these Raves.

XOXO was well done, and really immersed the viewer into the culture. The vibrancy of the light shows, the neon colors, fireworks all very nicely done.

I also want to point out in addition to our six main characters XOXO has an incredibly strong supportive cast who were so convincing that during the press day, both Sarah and Graham made a point of mentioning the strength of the supporting characters.

The acid trip was probably the most suspenseful moments in the film, I wasn't a big fan of the extent of the trip. And honestly, without it XOXO has greater appeal, more widespread audience. Who wants to explain to a 'tween why the character is having a conversation with non-existent people in a porta-potty?

I don't point out drug use in films, as a personal advocate of legalization, the acid trip is a real downer for me and as a reviewer I'll have to add that. I think it was my reason behind procrastinating on writing the review.

Sarah Hyland is adorable and Graham Phillips a geeky charmer and even with the flushed out acid effects XOXO scores big! It is enjoyable.

The story of the other five main characters becomes so intriguing that one can almost overlook the freely passed acid storyline. XOXO is charming and vibrant, a neon party ride!  

XOXO, a Netflix original film, is available for viewing now. 

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