Stay Cool (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Stay Cool (2011)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Henry McCarthy (Mark Polish), the 30-something author of the popular 80s-themed novel How Lionel Got Me Laid, returns to his suburban hometown of Sacramento to deliver the commencement speech at his former high school. Despite his success as an author Henry's return home has sparked all of the youthful dreams, desires and particularly disappointments he's never quite gotten over, specifically his unrequited affection for the girl who is now the local pharmacist: the elusive Scarlet Smith (Winona Ryder). Between run-ins with the outcast friends he left behind Big Girl (Sean Astin) and Wino (Josh Holloway), the school principal (Chevy Chase) and a seductive senior, Shasta O'Neil (Hilary Duff) who clearly has the hots for him, Henry is sent spinning through a time warp that incites all the old emotions and challenges of the world he grew up in. -- (C) Initiate Productionsmore
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, language including some drug references, and some underage drinking)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Michael Polish, Mark Polish
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 20, 2011
Cinedigm Films - Official Site

Watch it now


Mark Polish
as Henry McCarthy
Winona Ryder
as Scarlet Smith
Hilary Duff
as Shasta O'Neil
Sean Astin
as Big Girl
Jon Cryer
as Javier
Chevy Chase
as Principal Marshall
Frances Conroy
as Mrs. Leuchtenberger
Jessica St. Clair
as Darcy Portola
Joanna Cassidy
as Mrs. Smith
Ken Johnson
as Mr. O'Neil
Jessica Schatz
as Mrs. O'Neil
Dee Wallace Stone
as Mrs. McCarthy
Michael Gross
as Mr. McCarthy
Ashley Bell
as Valedictorian
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Stay Cool

Critic Reviews for Stay Cool

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Attempts to pay homage to the '80s oeuvre of filmmaker John Hughes, but its singular lack of emotional logic, charm and humor bring to mind a couple of hours in detention instead.

Full Review… | September 15, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Stay Cool is their most grounded effort, attacking the formulaic discomfort and confusion of an impending high school reunion. It doesn't always convince, but it's the most approachable Polish production to date.

Full Review… | September 15, 2011

There is much here to find admirable but a whole lot less to genuinely like.

Full Review… | June 22, 2009
Eye for Film

like an exercise in calculated nostalgia

May 6, 2009
Manhattan Movie Magazine

This is thoroughly a family affair, but with the Polish brothers' upcoming film Manure just around the corner, Stay Cool feels a bit rushed, suggesting nothing more than an homage to Pretty in Pink or Some Kind of Wonderful.

Full Review… | May 3, 2009
Slant Magazine

Full Review… | September 13, 2010
NOW Toronto

Audience Reviews for Stay Cool


This film had it's moments. The characters were enjoyable and the juxtaposation of the audio-book and the situations happening on the screen helped bring a third dimension to the story. The film has it's glitches and problems (such as a 37 year old being so easily manipulated by an 18 year old.) but it makes up with the connection you have with the lead character. This is my first polish brothers film and it makes me want to look into their films more so Mike & Michael, you got a new fan. P.S.- Wynona Ryder, hottest actress EVER!!!

Joshua Wilburn
Joshua Wilburn

Super Reviewer

If you girls really like prom nights , graduations ,highschool ...etc check it out! As for you guys still can watch it because it is not annoying at all.Well ,I watched it because Josh Holloway was in the cast :) Although he always reminds me of Sawyer (if you have watched Lost you know what I mean!),this was like a sweet version of him!!!

Eliza Norton

Super Reviewer


I purchased this one as an ex-rental before seeing it. Reading some of the reviews here, was a bit concerned I had picked up a crap one, but actually I found this not bad.
It is definitely not perfect, and has it's faults, the main one to me being the ending. (I am not a person who always needs a happy ending or a neatly tied up one, but it just felt that this was the type of movie that called for one). It's maybe pretending to be a little deeper than it really is.
To me, this is just a fun movie about a man, Henry, who goes back to his hometown years later, after having written a book about his high school years and the one who got away (Winona Ryder - lovely here - the best film I have seen her do for years). Some of it is a little far fetched, as others have complained. For reasons to silly to go into, he winds up back in high school, where an attractive young student played by Hillary Duff takes a shine to him and asks him to her prom. It doesn't all make sense totally (then again, I was on 3 days of insomnia when I watched this, so perhaps I was just missing bits. Highly possible), but I think what it was trying to do was draw parallels to his life as it was back then, and how it is now (as it also has a voiceover of bits of his book, and the fictional character of Lauren who is, of course, Winona Ryder's character, Scarlet, thinly disguised). So he does find himself in silly situations, such as Scarlet's boyfriend, (the bully), beating him up.
The movie itself is quite colourful to look at, kind of reminded me of Romy & Michele in parts (especially the funny scenes with Scarlet and her sarcastic best friend), Sean Astin also plays a funny over the top part as Henry's gay best friend who is a hairdresser. (Yes, stereotype). And Jon Cryer as Henry's sleazy agent. (Another 80's flashback!). Hillary is plastered all over the cover of the DVD (for the Australian release, anyhow), but its not really "her" movie. she doesn't appear in it a lot until around 45 minutes in. I think where this one will fail it is marketed to appeal to the present teen audience when really it is the 80's kids who will get a kick out of this.
I would say give it a go. Could have been better, but definitely not a fail..

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Stay Cool Quotes

– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Stay Cool on our Movie forum!