Fresh on Netflix: ‘TO THE BONE’ and ‘FRIENDS FROM COLLEGE’ leave a bad taste in your mouth


Preston Barta // Editor

Aside from this year’s GLOW, I haven’t enjoyed much out of Netflix’s wheelhouse, and that continues with today’s releases of TO THE BONE and FRIENDS FROM COLLEGE.

Not rated, 107 minutes.
Director: Marti Noxon
Cast: Lily CollinsKathryn PrescottKeanu ReevesAlex SharpLiana LiberatoCarrie PrestonAlanna Ubach and Lili Taylor

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the fun of escapist entertainment that we forget how profound an awareness film can be. We often choose to ignore them. “That movie seems too depressing.” — “Life is hard as it is.” — “Why would I want to watch something like that?” Tearjerkers can be a rewarding experience. There have been a few of them this year that I found myself swept up in and have since walked through life with my ear closer to the ground. Sadly, TO THE BONE is not one of them.

TO THE BONE, written and directed by Marti Noxon (UnREAL, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), is a Netflix-produced film that centers on a 20-year-old anorexic girl named Ellen (Lily Collins) who has spent most of adolescent life going through various recovery programs, only to find herself still losing weight. Her family is determined to find a solution to her illness, and find hope in a non-traditional doctor (Keanu Reeves) who runs a group home for youths. Their atypical rules are a bit jarring, but perhaps this is what Ellen needs in order to push forward.

TO THE BONE means well, but oddly enough for a film that takes on anorexia, it fails to evoke the reality of the disease. The movie merely takes us through the pamphlet of the illness and never finds an interesting way to present its dated material. This is surprising considering how talented Noxon has proved her self to be in her past work. Aside from its committed talent on screen, TO THE BONE never cuts deep enough to mark it memorable.

Grade: D

TV-MA, about 240 minutes.
Creator: Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Keegan-Michael KeyCobie SmuldersAnnie ParisseNat FaxonFred Savage and Jae Suh Park

Like TO THE BONE, this eight-episode dramatic comedy series has all the elements to make it promising. It also focuses on subject that many of us can identify with: How do we do this whole adult thing, even when we’re in our 30s and 40s? Add a great cast (Keegan Michael-Key, Cobie Smulders and Fred Savage), some fun cameos and hard-hitting jokes, and you have the next binge-worthy series. Not quite.

Imagine if all characters from FRIENDS were unlikable, cheated on each other constantly without reason, and didn’t know how to keep the energy fun long enough before you realized growing old sucks. There are a few solid laughs, but it’s not worth the devastation you must endure to get there. This show has selfish written all over and it never lets up.

Grade: D+

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.