Booksmart: a movie about 2019 high school graduates that’s coincidentally about to be reviewed by a 2019 high school graduate. But it’s more than that. Booksmart is also about rebellion, heartbreak, and happiness.
Seniors Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are academic superstars who spent all of high school studying nonstop to get into great colleges. After succeeding, the two realize that the partygoers also got into great schools without spending all their time studying. Not wanting to be seen as losers, the two decide they are going to cram all the fun of high school into a single night before graduation.
Booksmart couldn’t have come out at a more perfect time. It came out the day after I graduated high school, which meant I couldn’t see it since I was in Korea. However, once I got back, I knew I had to see it. I just loved the concept so much, but I have to be honest: the trailers were unimpressive. The movie didn’t look that great at first. Then all the reviews came in. It got a ridiculous amount of praise and even a 100% RT score at one point. So I went and saw it, and yeah, believe the hype.
Booksmart is an amazing movie. It’s both a crazy film with crazy scenarios and a brutally honest take on high school. Like I said earlier, the idea is awesome. The best way I can describe it would be to combine Superbad with Lady Bird because of how goofy and serious it takes itself.
There comes a time when we all regret not doing something fun because we chose to focus on academics. This film shows how one can experience that regret and try to make up for it in a single night. Not only that, it also shows the true experience of high school. Director Olivia Wilde said that high school is war, which is very true. It’s a battle of trying to find out who you are, who you want to be, and also butting heads with others who may seem better. Booksmart dives into that. It can relate to every individual or clique by what makes high school amazing or awful. The actors in this movie talk exactly as real high schoolers would.
They either talk with extreme maturity or come off as overly cool to seem like they’re hot stuff. When it comes to the comedic side of the plot, it works perfectly. When the kids are hanging out and partying, it seems very natural—despite them talking about sex and nonsense.
Speaking of which, it’s a very funny film. Some of these situations are so ridiculous and so absurd, you can’t help but laugh along with it. And even though the actors talk really well on the goofy side, it works tremendously well when it gets into the dramatic stuff too. The conversations are real. They delve in on situations like loss of friendships, secret affections, a hidden side of them that nobody sees, the future, college, everything. It doesn’t talk down to high schoolers today; it celebrates them by not sugar-coating the problems, but instead addressing them head-on.
They’re issues that real high schoolers and graduates feel, especially the main characters. Despite Amy and Molly being the academic all-stars, they want to be recognized. Even though partying goes against all their standards and goes against the reputation they’ve built up amongst their peers, they don’t care. They say “screw everyone, we’re going to do what we want to do.” And that’s awesome. The two even have their own issues and struggles in their own lives and on an individual level—not just with regards to facing the fact that they are going to be separated once college starts. Amy is a lesbian who feels affection for a girl but can’t bring herself to show it. Molly also wants that special someone (a guy) but is frightened by the idea of not having her best friend. Even so, the two support each other and share an incredible friendship. That’s what makes the movie.
Amy and Molly’s chemistry is unbelievably good. You can tell that these two really care about each other and seeing them be with each other is so enjoyable. Their dialogue is also unique compared to their peers. Since they’re smarter, they often reference certain political events, use math terms, or are inspired by historical figures. It’s genuinely funny. The two are just so likable for all the right reasons. They’re both determined, funny, passionate, caring, yet insanely awkward. Amy plays a more straightforward personality. She is hesitant and takes things one step at a time. Molly is comparatively more carefree and craves a more extreme type of recklessness. Together, they form the perfect dynamic duo.
Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are fantastic as the two female leads. Their performances complement the well-written screenplay. They seem like legit best friends, something that can be hard to convey. Personally, I think the two are great actresses who can go on to do even greater things.
On the technical side, Booksmart is really well made. This was Olivia Wilde’s first directing job, and it’s a really good one. I can definitely see more from her in the future. The editing is tight and methodical, the soundtrack is really fun, and the shots are lit and framed well, not to mention the presentation is just perfect. But really, it boils down to the fact that Booksmart’s strongest trait is its honesty. It’s an honest portrayal of high school: a film that delves into the true feelings and realities of adolescence. Sure, it’s silly and rebellious, but that’s high school. Amongst all the academic seriousness, there’s a major chunk that we look back on as a time of complete fun. This is a look at complete fun, alongside its honesty.
So to conclude, go see Booksmart if you get the chance. It’s funny, well written, well performed, full of comedy and drama, relatable to almost anyone who experienced high school, and 100% honest. It’s the ultimate generational high school comedy that I think can become a new classic.
FINAL RATING: 10/10