The Archies

wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

It’s cute—more in the way it shows Politics 101 than its romance. Of course, it’s over-simplified and candy-flossified. But hey, this is one way to tell Gen Z, “We are sorry. But you have to clean up the mess we created.” (Available on Netflix)

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Director: Zoya Akhtar
Running time: 140 minutes
Genres: Politics, Romance, Social
More Movie Info

I was not expecting to put “Social” and “Political” ahead of “Romance” against genre when I typed my review out for The Archies. Of course, I was sceptical. It is based on an American comic. From its trailers, it looks like it is set in a la-di-da land for teenagers. I’, happy for them but am okay without it. It has a chic star cast with Barbie-doll-style makeup. There is every reason to be apprehensive and think that the politics in the trailer is going to be just padding around a teenage love triangle. But it is the other way around. The love story exists only to be true to the comic. Sure, it is only filmy “Business-Politician-Media Nexus for Beginners”. But, it has a chance to appeal to its target audience. And I didn’t mind it at all.

It makes me wonder how much more I would have enjoyed the film, if there had been a little more pluck and spark to the dialogue-writing.

It certainly came as a surprise to me. What after the boring narration of the backstory in the first few minutes. You sense that they are preparing an excuse to cover up for the accents and the costumes. And the songs. And you are not wrong. There’s loads to complain about there. Sure, the songs are alright, some of them even good! And it works as a wannabe musical. But, you don’t that backstory to also sneakily create a microcosm and build on it slowly. The intention is to make a statement. About the power of money and the power of many. The power of rebellion. The power that being self-centred holds. The power that being submissive concedes.

I loved the song that awakens Archie to the world around him. The movie makes artistic choices in adapting the comic to the story it wants to be. It makes itself into a coming-of-age story on the side. The Archies has many such little touches that come together to make the film charming. It touches upon feminism and homosexuality without making a big deal about it. No, the film hasn’t set out to change the world. It wants to be and is a fairy tale.

But who said fairy tales can’t ruffle some capitalistic feathers? Even if very few. I quite enjoyed the adaptation of the comic to the situation the film has created for itself. The changes in the dynamics between the characters were in fact an improvement over the comic, even. In this world, whatever the movie does—either it works or it passes off without attracting too much attention. Be it the town that is cut off from all else or the new actors being uncomfortable with speaking. Interestingly, despite this, not one of them came across as a bad actor.

Suhana Khan playing the lovable and oblivious spoilt brat, Veronica Lodge has spunk and an enviable screen presence. Agastya Nanda as man-child Archie Andrews is as sincere as Archie is made out to be in the comic. Also, it is difficult to not compare Agastya’s comfort with dialogue delivery with his uncle’s. Khushi Kapoor looks like she will take a little more time to get comfortable on the screen. Or maybe it has a bit to do with Betty Cooper’s demure character. Then again, I didn’t like Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhat’s first performances either. So, they all will grow as actors and it shows.

Vedang Raina as Reggie Mantle stood out for me. Both because of the change in Reggie’s personality and Vedang’s ease with his character. Dot.—wow! What a name!—as Ethel Muggs will stay with me for a long time. And I think that is more because I didn’t expect her to have so much screen time. The same goes for Yuvraj Menda as Dilton Doiley and Mihir Ahuja as Jughead Jones. Their characters might be dialed down compared to the comic, but they are given enough space for us to know a little about them.

It is a miracle that all this came across given their dialogue delivery was so stifled. I mean why were most of them speaking with their lips closed? It looked as if the makeup would move out of place if they opened their mouth a little. For now, it makes me look forward to the movies they take up that don’t require their faces to be layered with foundation.

But who said fairy tales can’t ruffle some capitalistic feathers?

Or maybe…maybe…they were as dissatisfied with the lines they were given as I was. Some lines made me think that they might as well have made an English film. If you are going to translate “What do you think?” as a repartee to “tumhein kya lagta hai” being spoken without any intonation, might as well do it in English, right? You would get the sense of the line at least. The dialogue is lacklustre.

It makes me wonder how much more I would have enjoyed the film, if there had been a little more pluck and spark to the dialogue-writing. While the movie overall took some time to warm up and come into its groove—whether it be its story, its performances, or its song and dance, its dialogue seemed just about average throughout.

I understand some scenes were picked from the comic. But they didn’t work individually, even though overall they created a world I didn’t mind a peek into. For instance, scenes with all these skinny girls gorging on cake seemed to be included because of something from the comic. Individually, it felt out of place with the world created but it added to the sense of comradery that they shared.

This made The Archies a pleasant watch despite stale lines. Also refreshing, was to see near-teens play teenagers in a teen-flick instead of 30+-year-old men who were regulars in the 90s. The Archies might not be this production house’s or this director's or these writers’ best film. But not all films have to be the best. Some can be just enjoyable. That, this one is.

- meeta, a part of the audience

28 reviewers(?) - 17 yays 8 so-so 3 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Smrity Sharma, Bollywood Life : ...The Archies is the perfect winter watch. Christmas and New Year is round the corner and The Archies is an easy entertaining watch that you can enjoy with that hot chocolate. It comes as the much-needed breath of fresh air at a time when gore, violence and crime thrillers are ruling the big screens and the OTT space. The young star kids and the other actors have done a great job and their performances are a delight to watch.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Maybe the visual artifice is supposed to be a character in a town that’s learning to flaunt its flesh and blood. Except, it feels like The Truman Show where nobody is in on the gag. The environmental angle makes you wonder if, by saving the trees, the teens end up denying publishers the paper to print comics on – thereby erasing their own existence.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Watch the film for the dose of nostalgia that it provides. It makes you yearn for your school/college days and for a life which was simple yet perfect.... full review

Thumbs up, by Murtuza, Filmi Beat : ...Overall, The Archies is a refreshing, feel-good movie with some newcomers who have performed well. You can chill and watch it on Netflix. Read more at: full review

Thumbs up, by Lachmi Deb Roy, FirstPost : ...The pop-culture of the Archie comic had influenced the Indian convent school going kids of that era as much as it did the kids of America.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vijayalakshmi Narayanan, Free Press Journal : ...Setting that aside, there isn't a single false note that can be pinpointed in the performances delivered by the film's young cast. Agastya effortlessly embodies Archie, a character that occasionally flirts, infusing idealism with his charm. Dot., as Ethel, is delightfully ambitious, and her character resonated with me the most. Vedang effectively portrays the neighborhood heartthrob Reggie, while Mihir, as Archie's bro-dude Jughead, is hilariously on point. Suhana is aptly yet unconventionally cast as Veronica, a daddy’s princess with a heart. Khushi embodies the perfect girl-next-door who loves to bake. However, my favorite performance has to be Yuvraj as Dilton, the genius whose moment of truth will leave you deeply moved.... full review

Thumbs up, by Baradwaj Rangan, : ...The Archies is overlength. At some two hours and twenty minutes, the film qualifies as a… Double Digest, and the second hour suffers a little because of the pacing and the ending we see coming from a mile away. But the old-world charm works big-time, especially with cinematographer Nikos Andritsakis’s bright, butter-soft frames. I would have loved to see The Archies on a big screen.. Read more at: full review

Thumbs up, by Aseem Sharma, India TV : ...Since The Archies is a teen musical comedy, the film's songs and background score are something one must be excited about. Tracks like 'Sunoh' and 'Va Va Voom', strongly connect with the film's storyline. These songs, with lyrics written by veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar, blend seamlessly, which adds depth and emotion to the story. They bind you to the characters' journeys of reuniting, partying together, and fighting for the same cause, which ultimately enhances the overall experience of the movie. The background score also plays a key element that beautifully complements the storytelling in The Archies.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rohan Naahar, indian express : ...“The grass is green where you water it.” He goes from being a vocally apolitical ‘loafer’ to spearheading a Salim-Javed-style movement against the razing of everybody’s favourite local park — perhaps a reference to the controversial construction projects at Mumbai’s Aarey Forest, which in turn would make it a sneaky tip of the hat to the late Jawaharlal Nehru. As Akhtar makes clear in a musical sequence midway through the movie, “Everything is politics.”... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...And teenagers, chiefly, are obviously the target audience for this film—pushed by Netflix, globally, in a way that no Indian content has been, to this scale. Mustn’t let expectations interfere with the experience.... full review

Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...The Archies is a mixed bag; as Betty says, “We all get good and bad in our lunchbox.” But try it; you might get your part of “good.”... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...India's attainment of Independence and the death of its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru - neither of the two signposts of Indian history is specifically mentioned - were separated by 17 years. And that is the age of the younger characters in the film. They are as old as the free nation that they are ready to fight for.... full review

Thumbs up, by Dishya Sharma, : ...The film could have also been a tad bit shorter. Some scenes like Betty finding out about Veronica and Archie could have been written tighter. By the time the film reaches the climax, you are already zoning out of it. The climax is also done in a bit of a hurry and is predictable. With The Archies, it is evident that Zoya had a lot in store for the young generation and wanted to balance out every character but the task of it took a toll on the overall story.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rishil Jogani, Pinkvilla : ...The Archies is another masterfully crafted Zoya Akhtar directorial that boasts of some impressive performances by the debutants. The basic plot and conflict however limits its scope of being something that stands out. On the whole, The Archies is a heartwarming flick that celebrates love and friendship.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...The Archies is a paean to simpler, softer times. Zoya never loses sight of that. When it's time to stir people out of their apathy, it's not an adrenalin-pumping rock and roll anthem but a serene ballad of hope dipped in her poet dad Javed Akhtar's optimism -- Yeh Saari Awaazein Kirney Ban Jayengi. Kirnein Jo Duniya Mein Nayi Roshni Layengi that draws people to do the right thing. It's an evergreen thought passed on from generation to generation. And so are The Archies. Only wish it had some of the comic's tee-hee humour and hyuk hyuk too. ADVERTISEMENT... full review

Thumbs up, by Shreya Tinkhede, Times Now : ...No doubt the film is beautiful, but it also feels too good to be true at a few moments. The actors at a certain level lacked good dialogue, and a 'few' half-heartedly written plots make it less appealing. The makers did a good job of squeezing all the Archies-style elements in two hours, and full marks for the sincere attempt, but a little precision would have hurt none.... full review

Thumbs up, by Pooja Talwar, Zee News : ...The film which is designed as a Broadway musical gets its soul from the compositions of Shankar Ehsaan and Loy which are rhythmic and melodious, getting the vibe of the 60’s, a time when Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Cliff Richards had us dancing to their tunes.... full review

So-So, by Abhimanyu Mathur, DNA : ...But The Archies remains one of Zoya’s weakest films. It is feel-good and filled with nostalgia but does lacks the depth that some of her previous works have. Her films have always had good rewatch value. I am not so sure if I want an encore of The Archies though. It was a nice little treat that made me feel good for a little while. But not good enough to entice me again. What irks me is how better it could have been.... full review

So-So, by Prannay Pathak, Hindustan Times : ...Agastya Nanda puts in earnest work to make this Archie seem less unfeeling, but he is overshadowed by Vedang Raina (Reggie), who has a Ranveer Singh energy about him. Khushi Kapoor as Betty doesn’t feel overawed at all in her acting debut where she has to compete with the prima donna Veronica. Suhana Khan essays the latter with a careful balance of over-the-top and rich-kid confidence, at times even betraying the flair of her real-life father, Shah Rukh Khan.... full review

So-So, by Bhavana Agarwal, india today : ...Adapting a story is a daunting task, and while we commend Zoya and Reema for their effort, will 'The Archies' reach the global acclaim achieved by 'Squid Game' for South Korea? Only time will tell! Catch 'The Archies' on Netflix.... full review

So-So, by lekha Menon, Khaleej Times : ...The musical numbers are well-choreographed and the production design and colour palette have a distinct comic book feel. All these elements make the film exude a warm, cosy energy which is sweet but not enough to make up for the lack of a compelling story.... full review

So-So, by Prateek Sur, Outlook India : ...‘The Archies’ is definitely not a cup of tea for everyone. It’s not a one size fits all. If you’re not into the Western musical structure of films, this will bore the heck out of you. The young actors are promising. The direction does lack the punch that Zoya Akhtar usually has. But overall, for the ones who’re familiar with the ‘High School Musical’ sort of movies, this is still an Average Watch. I am going with 2.5 stars.... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, : ...The biggest strength – and the real stars – are the production design, costumes, cinematography, art direction, choreography and locations. Under Akhtar’s direction, the elements integrate to build an immersive and idyllic backdrop. Nostalgia might not hit home, but there is enough novelty here to hold interest.... full review

So-So, by Shilajit Mitra, The Hindu : ...As Suhana Khan, daughter of Shah Rukh Khan, and Khushi Kapoor, daughter of producer Boney Kapoor, make their respective entries in Zoya Akhtar’s The Archies, the sunny opening number ‘Sunoh’ welcomes them in. In fact, in a supremely unsubtle gesture, the words ‘suhani’ and ‘khushi’ ring out on the track... full review

So-So, by Dhaval Roy, Times of India : ...The movie loses steam in the second half and could have been more engaging as the conflict escalates. Solutions are convenient, and the resolution is trifling. Overall, while the era, the look and feel have been created well, the movie ends up a tad underwhelming. What is delightful is watching a bunch of fresh new faces put their best food forward - whether for emoting on screen or doing some rock n roll the 60s tunes.... full review

Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...Zoya Akhtar compromises her vision in lieu of accepting the challenge of decorating a bewitching vehicle to launch star-kids. This is not the Zoya I know or want. Yes, the line “To make art, you’ve to go in, not out” has some of her shades, but that’s about it. She misfires, missing the target, adding yet another mediocre blot on her body of work after the utterly disappointing Made In Heaven 2.... full review

Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Akhtar’s abiding interest in, and affection for, choreography is a bright spot. The song sequences, done in the style of an American musical rather than a Bollywood one, are the most inventive bits in the film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Pooja Birala Jaiswal, The Week : ...This saccharine world somehow feels too sweet; maybe a dash of masala would have done the film some good.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

1 readers - 1 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Raj : I read Archies - thus, I love this picture perfect creation of Zoya...

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Some curse words
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Teens take up some social responsibility
  • General Look and Feel: Fairyland

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

The Archies - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Background Score:
Running time:
140 minutes

Comments (1)

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Dear Meetu, Beautiful.. microscopic observatinos make this review a delight to read. I agree with you - I hope Farhan Akhtar had not written dialogues in English and literally translated it. Better if he had shown to his father - Javed Akhtar, who penned out GREAT dialogues throughout his career.

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