"Prepare to get bashed! In a fun way, like consensually bashed, I mean. Consensually bashed, it should say. Prepare to get consensually bashed."
The history of the world is now divided into BB and AB, Before Booksmart and After Booksmart, I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules!
Boasting a whopping 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, Olivia Wilde has captured lightning in a bottle with her feature-length directorial debut. The film has earned not only rave reviews from critics, but audiences alike, and for damn good reason.
I laughed. I cried. I felt called out. This is a coming-of-age story for the people who never had one. But oh baby, now we do.
The film is centered around a simple premise---two overachieving teenage girls realize that, despite dedicating their lives to school and sparing no time for parties or fun or life outside each other, they aren’t the only successful ones. In fact, most of their partying classmates are also primed for academic accomplishment in top universities.
Cue the absolute downward spiral.
Booksmart is a movie about two of the most insufferable types of people I remember from school with, and by some absolute miracle, I loved them!
Probably because I was more of that type of person than I care to admit!
Moving on from that for my self-esteem!
Spearheaded by Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird, Neighbors 2) as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing, Short Term 12) as Amy, the two lead actresses share both an undeniable chemistry and honestly enviable comedic timing. If you told me that the two were best friends in real life, I would believe you without question. They capture the sort of intimacy that you can only have with your childhood best friend, significant other be damned. No one knows me like the girl who’s watched me have bad bangs, I’m sorry, but that will never not be true.
They play off each other in a way that lights up the screen like magic. I say with the utmost certainty that Feldstein and Dever are this generation’s Hill and Cera, Booksmart our Superbad.
But it isn’t only the two lead actresses who shine in their respective roles. No actor in the film came to play.
Two standout supporting performances were Billie Lourd (Scream Queens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as GiGi, who delivers lines such as “I lost my virginity in what I thought was a park, but it turned out to be a graveyard, and now the spirits of the dead live in my eggs, waiting to be reborn,” in an absolute deadpan and Skyler Gisondo (Santa Clarita Diet, Time Freak) as Jared, the semi-hapless, semi-love interest for Molly. I would honestly pay just to watch the two of them odd couple their way into shenanigans.
Another admirable mention here is Jason Sudeikis (SNL, The Last Man on Earth), Wilde’s longtime partner, as the Lyft-driving, responsibility-dodging Principal Brown.
Wilde directs with a sort of clarity and understanding that so few directors–much less first-time directors–seem able to manage. No part of the movie falls short: it’s hilarious and heartfelt, experimental yet familiar, real but not depressing, queer without tokenizing and voyeuristic. The cinematography? Gorgeous. The casting? On point. The script? One of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
Booksmart probably shouldn’t have been allowed to be this damn good, but thank god it is. With Lady Bird, The Edge of Seventeen, and now Booksmart, we’re living in the coming of age movie revival. Let’s hope we can keep this weird girl ball rolling.
Now go see Booksmart and tell Olivia Wilde thank you.