‘Booksmart‘ is directed by Olivia Wilde and stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as Amy and Molly, two soon to be high school graduates that spent their entire school years focusing on academics, and forgoing the ‘traditional’ high school experience of partying and getting into trouble. The week before graduation they discover that all their fellow students were able to have BOTH, getting into great schools and being able to party. Now Amy and Molly decide they need to have the high school experience they missed out on all in one night, hilarity ensues, etc. While yes, this is a very similar plot to the Greg Mattola classic ‘Superbad‘ but where ‘Booksmart’ stands apart is in it’s lead performances and smart a clever directing by Olivia Wilde.
In the first act it’s very clear they are following the same story beats as ‘Superbad’ and many other coming of age films where the objective of the main characters is to “get laid”. I don’t want to harp to much on that because really, there aren’t many films that can execute a story THIS well, so even if there are parallels, they do enough with the story to make it not feel like it’s trying to imitate something else.
The performances by both Dever and Feldstein come very naturally to them, you believe that these two have been friends for a really long time, and the chemistry and back and forth between them are as strong to me as a Tina Fey/Amy Poehler dynamic duo. I think their characters were explored really well, I particularly loved Devers performance as the “trying to get laid” character. It’s a change of pace to not only see a lead female character be comfortable with her own sexual preferences, but to also know what they want and are willing to act on it is really empowering and I just really appreciated seeing that on screen.
There are also a few standout performances from the side characters. Jessica Williams as the ‘cool’ teacher ‘Miss Fine’ and Skyler Gisondo as the dweeby kid that shows the real side of him later on in the story. I loved their performances and thought they brought alot of the humor to the story. The MVP performance that I did not expect was from Billy Lourd, daughter of the late Carrie Fisher. I think she was absolutely hilarious in this role, she was able to just go crazy with it and I wanna see more of her in future comedic roles.
The movie is shot pretty well, utilizing some fun camera tricks and trying to give each shot a more visually pleasing look, rather than how many comedies end up looking because there isn’t enough focus on the technical aspects but with this, Wilde was able to do both very well.
I had such a good time seeing ‘Booksmart’. It’s got heart, laughs and a great pair of leading actors. While it borrows from many of the coming of age films before it, ‘Booksmart’ stands apart as a very well shot, funny and entertaining film that could stand the test of time as being this generations ‘Mean Girls’.