The latest movie led by a TikToker is Griffin Johnson’s ‘Diamond in the Rough,’ a snarky rom-com inspired by other comedies like ‘Happy Gilmore’ and ‘Caddyshack.’ While it might not have shaken up Hollywood right away, it’s definitely put the wheels in motion.
The flick doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a surprisingly accurate, chuckle-worthy look into the life of a twenty-something trying to make it after college, all while juggling societal expectations and self-sabotage by comparing oneself to their friends and colleagues.
Unfortunately, ‘Diamond in the Rough’ hasn’t gotten much publicity. It has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and YouTube searches reveal a fairly sparse selection… but it might be one of the best TikToker-led films thus far.
Johnson’s movie – in which he co-stars with Disney actress Samantha Boscarino – isn’t afraid of topical humor and political jokes. It genuinely had me laughing out loud at points (Boscarino saying that “Elon Musk could see that thing from space” in reference to her friend’s gaudy wedding ring comes to mind).
On top of its unabashed humor, it boasts a few heartfelt moments that I empathized with (a new mother confiding in a friend, doubting her ability to be a good parent), on top of a good soundtrack. (Seriously, drop the OST, Creator Plus.)
Additionally, Johnson has all the makings of a Disney star a la Zack Efron. His acting held up surprisingly well throughout the film — he played the part of the handsome heartthrob quite perfectly, fraught here and there with the occasional joke (enough to elicit a snort out of me, at least).
It’s a decent debut film for Johnson, who has high hopes for his future in acting — a similar goal for several other TikTok stars like Charli D’Amelio, Bryce Hall, and Addison Rae.
Addison Rae’s ‘He’s All That’ notoriously received mixed reviews upon its release last year, and currently sits at a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sure, Rae’s acting is a bit stiff, and the subject matter is decidedly dated — but it’s safe to say the film received undue criticism over its leading lady, who has notoriously battled internet trolls for simply existing online for years.
That’s not all; Rae also got backlash for simply breaking into the acting space in the first place, with netizens upset that she had “stolen” a spot from another hard-working actor who’d gone to school for the trade, rather than working their way up from TikTok.
But overall, Rae’s movie isn’t terrible. It’s your standard ‘chick-flick’ with a modern twist, featuring topical humor and some genuinely good acting from its supporting cast. For Rae, it’s a solid debut film — one of many to come, as she’s scored a multi-film deal with Netflix.
Now, it’s time for other influencers to take the Hollywood plunge… Charli D’Amelio and Bryce Hall, specifically. Both TikTokers are slated to star in upcoming horror films, with Hall’s movie notably scoring a role with rapper 50 Cent.
It is this writer’s opinion that these films are marking the beginning of a new age of celebrity, as social media has already evidenced on its own. Who are we to pigeonhole creators into one mold? TikTokers, like anyone else, should be allowed to pursue careers in acting, and its clear that they’re already making their marks in a big way.
Sure, these aren’t Oscar-worthy performances we’re seeing here… but everyone has to start somewhere.
Reality TV star Harry Jowsey, who is also moving into scripted television shows, had a poignant comment on the criticism against TikTok movie leads: “I think everyone deserves to do whatever the f**k they want, to be honest. I think people who are sour or bitter because one person didn’t do it the traditional way is someone that’s not gonna go very far.”
Similarly, Griffin Johnson himself shared his take on the backlash in our exclusive interview: “I think a lot of it is honestly, people are a little bit, I don’t wanna say jealous, but they love to come down on people from TikTok because the career is… it happens pretty quick, and for different quirky things that people don’t see as talented. Doing this film has allowed me to showcase what I’m personally capable of.”
Let the TikTokers act without immediate tomato-throwing. If Johnson’s performance is anything to go by, you just might be surprised by what these influencers have up their sleeves in the exciting new future of cinema.
If this performance was anything to go by, Hollywood is going to want more and more influencers to get on board in years to come.