My Old Ass is a supremely charming affair that values the importance of familial connection: Sydney Film Festival Review

Though there is a high-concept present in the narrative forming of My Old Ass – shroom induced time travel could be the easiest elevator pitch summary (so, a high-concept if ever there was one) – Megan Park‘s deliriously sweet, always charming, oft-hilarious venture is, at its core, an uncomplicated affair that simply wants to make its audience smile (and, likely, cry)

And whilst it’s easy to accuse the film of a little emotional manipulation with its message of savouring your friends and family when you can, Park’s story – which furthers Margot Robbie‘s prowess as a producer, with her LuckyChap Entertainment on board – is so confidently told and assuredly led by the stellar Maisy Stella that it can be forgiven for ever feeling too rote.

Stella confidently carries the film as Elliott.  18-years-old, queer, and itching to leave her family’s Canadian farm for the college grounds of Toronto, her last few weeks are spent predominantly with her two best girlfriends, Ro (Kerrice Brooks) and Ruthie (Maddie Ziegler), who, one night, she “trips balls” with in the pristine grounds of the surrounding forest.  It’s on this special mushroom high that Elliott gets a visit from her future self.  A 39-year-old edition, to be specific, played with the expected flighty wisdom of Aubrey Plaza.

The interaction between the two Elliott’s is particularly amusing, with the older incarnate making sure to not give too much away as to what life has in store for her; partly because she doesn’t want to spoil any surprises, but also because she doesn’t know what could potentially alter if the young Elliott strays too far from the path.  One of the rules that is passed down is to cherish her family more, whilst the other is a little more ominous and vague, with the 39-year-old simply stating to “Stay away from Chad.”

The Chad in question is a farmhand, played with goofy charm by Percy Hynes White, and because he’s just so gosh darn likeable, we’re absolutely on the film’s side when Elliott, against her own literal self, can’t help but be swept away by him, leaving the question as to why she’s to stay away from him all the more burning throughout.  And whilst there is a concrete answer surrounding Chad’s placement in Elliott’s eventual life, part of the fun of My Old Ass is its aloofness regarding explaining everything else.

Just why Elliott was able to summon her future-self in a drug-fuelled hallucination, or why they can continue to communicate over the phone, is left to pure fantastical coincidence.  Elliott’s future is also never really elaborated upon, with the film instead opting to throw in sly, perhaps even bleak, one-liners that paint something of a picture; “I miss water”, the future Elliott sighs at one point without any further explanation.

And whilst it’s Plaza’s dry humour and emotional resonance that prove a valuable asset to the film when needed, My Old Ass ultimately belongs to Stella, who pitch-perfectly toes the line between being the relatable protagonist the story requires and the annoyed teenager who thinks she’s too cool for her family.  The resemblance between the two is quite minimal in actuality, but their chemistry is so natural and palpable that we ultimately don’t care.

It’s also to the film’s benefit that it treats its queer thematic with a naturality.  Elliott just assumes she’s gay due to her interest in girls, but Chad makes her question what attraction means to her, and it’s in that confusion and conversation that My Old Ass is likely to prove comforting to the blossoming audience this film is likely to target the hardest.

As much as the film does play to a formula, it embraces the mindset of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and so My Old Ass operates at a beautifully smooth pace.  Heartstrings will be tugged and lessons will be learned, but all done so with the most precious and sweetest of intentions.


My Old Ass is screening as part of this year’s Sydney Film Festival, running between June 5th and 16th, 2024.  For more information head to the official SFF page.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.