Dir; Olivia Wilde. Starring; Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Jason Sudeikis. R. Color. 102 min.
What a gem this turned out to be. The teen comedy is here to stay as it should because every generation has its own ideas. “Booksmart” is, for lack of a better word, smart. It deals with intelligence versus popularity, the importance of social media, homosexual issues, expectations of the future, and oh yeah principals who don’t give a damn because why should they as long as being an Uber driver on the side is an economic option.
We begin with our two protagonist friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) preparing for graduation. Molly is set to be valedictorian and on her way to Yale university. Amy is moving on as well but, having come out of the closet as a gay young women, has not been given quiet the same opportunities. Her parents smother her with constant treats and smiles, denying her true nature. Amy is in love with a tom girl skateboard chick. Molly is secretly in love with the pretty but stupid school jock class vice president. Of course neither of the besties will admit it.
Both Molly and Amy come to the realization that they never truly experienced high school. A great scene takes place when Molly hears other students insulting her for being stuck up while in a bathroom stall. When she confronts them they all tell her they are moving on to collegiate schools despite being young idiots. Molly says f*** it and sets her sites on going to the senior party.
Not having an invite, the girls must go through a series of missteps in hopes of going all out. From there a not so trusty rich friend Jason (a hilariously over the top Skyler Gisond), an accidental intake of drugs, and a quirky puppet doll sequence has the girls arrive to party on for the first time in their high school lives. Time to hashtag, and man do they hashtag and dab. But it does not work out as expected.
“Booksmart” is a bold and honest film. The surreal doll sequence makes sense because these characters don’t know what doing drugs is like even in its most innocent form because they have been sheltered for their entire lives. But they are experiencing it together. How they react going into a party for the first time is spot on. It is a realization of ‘we’re the best, oh wait we aren’t’ moments that we as an audience can all understand.
Cinematographer Jason McCormick creates such a visual dichotomy of the characters between being a, and I will say the actual words for impact, quote un quote NERD, with a mixture of teenage chaos. It is exaggerated, particularly with the slow-mo party scenes in the hallways at school. Later we are shown some beautiful underwater pool diving shots of kids having fun. Not because they’re underwater, any DP can do that. Because they’re poignant.
Critics have compared “Booksmart” to the 2007 classic comedy “Superbad”, saying its the female version. What the hell are you talking about? Look, I love “Superbad” for its raunchy comedy and it is great for what it is. This film is far more insightful and thought provoking. Do we have an instant cult classic? Only time will tell. All I know is that for my money its a damn good film directed by, hold on, OLIVIA WILDE!? You mean the actress best known for co-starring in “Tron: Legacy”? Yep, and Wilde tells a story so on point on the hilarious struggles of youth that it feels like she’s been doing it for years. Fathers of young girls might want to cover their eyes, but if you crack open your fingers for a few minutes the representation of growing up will feel oddly familiar.
Suck Factor: 1out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!