May 22nd, 2019
STARRING: BEANIE FELDSTEIN; KAITLYN DEVER; BILLIE LOURD; JASON SUDEIKIS
DIRECTED BY: OLIVIA WILDE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Booksmart is about as close as it comes to a person nailing their directorial debut. Olivia Wilde steps behind the camera, in this female focused, raunchy, yet hilarious comedy, capturing the essence of girl power in 2019. The easy comparison is that this is Superbad with the female gaze, but there’s a cooler bond here, with two rising star leads in Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird) and Kaitlyn Dever, taking us around for one more wild night in high school. With plenty of laughs, cool direction, it’s impossible to not gush over the epic adventure of Booksmart.
Molly (Feldstein) and Amy (Dever) are number one and two in their soon-to-be graduating class. They’re inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, come off as suck-ups to their classmates, but their intentions are good, including prepping Principal Brown (Jason Sudekis) with what he needs for next year’s school president. As Molly and Amy wait for graduation day, they feel relief for the next step, but wonder if they’ve wasted their youthful days? Things become even worse when Molly finds out that even the kids that party and take drugs are going to the best schools around. The plan? Have one epic weekend of fun, doing whatever it takes to prove they are not the lame smart kids.
As many of these movies can go, the fun exists in suspending ourselves for what wild escapades could happen in one night. What separates Booksmart from a plethora of comedies, many with frat boys, or lame sex jokes, is the sharp script from writers Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman. They not only have the guidance of Wilde’s quick moving direction, but give us a complete look at the soon-to-be college kid experience is. Filled with pressure to impress good looking guy Nick (Mason Gooding), Amy’s struggle in finding courage to tell skater girl Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) that she likes her, the dreadful feeling of being un-cool, the stress of losing touch with your best friend, and the uncertainty of what comes in the future.
If we take anything away from Booksmart it is that today’s youth is just as cool, fun, and smart as ever. It all beams out of the adorable, pairing of Feldstein and Dever. Their witty banter between one another is infectious, with their characters shared interest for pushing forward women’s rights, and hilariously claim “Malala!” (after women’s rights hero Malala Yousafzai) when they need one friend to do a favor for the other. The night takes them to various parties, often featuring a surprise appearance from scene stealer Billie Lourd as Gigia, but also including a murder mystery gathering where they accidentally get high, a sad party on a yacht with desperate nerd Jared (Skyler Gisondo), and the big bash at Nick’s being the sought out destination.
The last bit of praise belongs to Olivia Wilde, who not only directs with precision, but proves how important it is for films to give women their own voice. Not even I ever thought Wilde was capable of something this good. Booksmart is a Bridesmaids for teenage girls. A revolutionary look at kids growing up, in a world that wants to shun them, and claim their too busy on their phones. They can be extremely funny, chug a beer, and ready to run the world. Make more movies like this Hollywood. Give these ladies more opportunities. That’s not just a fact, that’s just Booksmart.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady