Movie Review: "Booksmart"
Unlike the two main characters in “Booksmart,” I did not go to a high school in a big city. Little Miami wasn’t tiny, but it wasn’t big by any standards. My graduating class was around 275 people, if I remember correctly. Small enough that we all knew each other, big enough that the ceremony took longer than we all liked (which, also unlike “Booksmart,” took place not on a beautiful early summer day, but on an abnormally cold, rainy June evening). Unlike Molly (Beanie Feldstein), I wasn’t valedictorian of my class, or even one of the “cool” smart kids like Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).
But, exactly like Molly and Amy, I didn’t party at all in high school.
“Booksmart” tells the story of Molly and Amy’s last day of high school — the day they realize that their peers who spent the weekends partying instead of studying got into the exact same Ivy League schools they did. It’s disheartening, to say the least, and Molly convinces Amy that what they need to do with their last day of freedom is party. Party hard.
Molly and Amy set out to attend THE party of the night. The only problem? They can’t get anyone to tell them where it is. Let’s just say that they end up going out of their way in their quest to get to Nick’s aunt’s house…
It’s a hilarious, utterly original ride with a great soundtrack and a killer supporting cast. Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, and Will Forte are perfect in their roles as principal, easygoing teacher, and unaware parents.
But it is Skyler Gisondo and Billie Lourd who steal the show. Their portrayal of best friends Jared and Gigi — who simultaneously love and hate each other, and are loved and hated by everyone at school — is comedic gold. Every time one of their characters was on the screen, I couldn’t help but chuckle.
The leading ladies take center stage though. Feldstein and Dever do naturally the thing that is so difficult in movies such as these — move between pure comedy and true emotion. They manage to do scenes that range from awkward to laugh-out-loud funny, to heartbreak, to pensive, to tears-in-your-eyes emotional. Granted, they had an awesome script penned by Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, and Katie Silberman to draw from, but Feldstein and Dever successfully bring the high school experience to life for every audience member through their characters.
Olivia Wilde’s direction (her debut as director) is spot-on. The cinematography is fun, and captures the atmosphere of Molly and Amy’s wild night through the shots themselves. Even the Barbie sequence — something that could have been so incredibly cringe worthy — was executed well. If “Booksmart” is Wilde’s first time in the director’s chair, I can’t wait to see what she continues to do.
The thing that makes “Booksmart” such a fun ride is that it’s relatable no matter what your status in high school. Maybe you were a partier, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you were an outsider, maybe you weren’t. This movie allows you to both reminisce on high school and be glad that you’ve since moved on. It’s a difficult feat, and not many movies are capable of eliciting emotion on so many different levels.
After I graduated, I didn’t have a last hurrah anything like Molly and Amy’s, but man did I enjoy the fact that this movie let me live vicariously through theirs.
None of the photos in this post are my own.