Review: Booksmart

One more, for the holiday weekend trifecta. Booksmart is the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde and is currently occupying a majority of the Hollywood spotlight. A-list celebrities like Taylor Swift, Ryan Reynolds, Reese Witherspoon, and Natalie Portman have been very outspoken with their support for the film, along with other comedy stars like Seth MacFarlane and Mindy Kaling. I mean, the film is pretty great. And the struggle is real for female-led and female-directed movies. The numbers don’t lie, there is a significant sex bias in what viewers flock to theatres to watch. Likely correlation, not causation (thanks 10th grade Prob & Stats), but it is something that we should be aware of and know that the industry of cinema is working effortlessly to right these disparities through ways including but not limited to opportunities for films like Booksmart. So I say let’s help support their efforts and go see the movie!
There is a lot to like in this film. The acting is stellar. The setting and tone are both very realistic. The young supporting cast is great in not only supporting the lead roles, but also leaving their own marks on screen too, namely Skyler Gisondo (Santa Clarita Diet), Molly Gordon (Life of the Party), and Billie Lourd (American Horror Story). The plot is hilarious and hits the level a comedy should be aiming for, similar to recent successful indie movies like Lady Bird and Edge of Seventeen (which are also both female-led and female-directed…see what I did there??). And what makes it stand out from just another comedy is not that the jokes or deliveries are any better, but that the movie is written and directed to get you to relate to and care about the people delivering the funny lines. There are many comedies that either aim for that goal and fall way short (every live-action Adam Sandler movie after 2004) or pretty much forget to aim altogether (almost every parody movie in the last 10 years). Altogether, for as crude and awkward as some parts were, I truly enjoyed seeing this movie and have to recommend it.
A quick synopsis of the film that doesn’t do it justice and one which you will probably read all over the internet is this: Superbad, but with girls. Yes, it resembles Superbad in that they want to have one night to party before graduating high school and going off to separate colleges, but I think that what this movie is to its time in history and culture is more than what Superbad was to its time. Much more. There is more depth to the main girls’ characters, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Spectacular Now, Laggies, Justified) and Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising; and ironically, Jonah Hill’s younger sister!). Their “high school struggles” are more than just wanting to hook up and feeling like outcasts, although yes that is the surface. I also think there is one standout scene (if you go see the movie, you’ll likely know the scene when you see it) that is beautifully shot and edited between the friends at a party. But anyway, this movie does follow the two, Amy and Molly, as they try to make up for four years lacking “high school fun” by packing it all into graduation’s eve. Searching for “the party” everyone is talking about, the quest for fun takes them all over town and tests the limits of their responsibility and their friendship.
That’s all I’m going to say about the movie, other than it just hit theatres this weekend and is worth at least a matinee ticket price. If you enjoy semi-raunchy comedies, this one is a sure hit. Olivia Wilde did a really great job here and deserves a lot of credit for delivering in more ways than one. It only brought in $6.9 million opening weekend (6th in domestic box office results) and has even more stiff competition with Rocketman, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Ma all releasing this week, so go show some support and love for the smaller films. But also, those movies will more than likely be my next three A-List tickets too, so keep your eyes open for those reviews coming soon. Thanks for reading, cheers!

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