Booksmart packs in all the fun of your favourite coming-of-age comedies, but with a fresh, modern perspective that guarantees its place among the teen-movie greats.
Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd
May 24, 2019
Olivia Wilde knocks it out of the park with Booksmart, an updated high school comedy that’s as thoughtful as it is hilarious. The film follows two overly studious best friends, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), as they attempt to make up for the lost time spent studying and infiltrate the party crowd before high school ends. On the night before graduation, they set out on an outrageous adventure to prove they aren’t just all work and no play.
Wilde’s A+ directorial debut
It’s hard to believe this (already critically acclaimed) comedy is Wilde’s directorial debut. After almost two decades in front of the camera, she realized at age 27 that she needed to be at the helm, directing films. “Spending 17 years as an actor on set is kind of a great film school. I spent a lot of time with really great directors, paying a lot of attention,” Wilde told Cineplex.
“[It’s] something for this young generation to watch and rewatch, and feel seen and feel like they’ve been accurately represented.”
“It’s amazing how you can continue to get to know yourself in life. There’s still a revelation that you’re yet to have,” said Wilde. As the actor-turned-director continues to reinvent herself, Booksmart echoes the theme she’s following in her own life: the power of breaking out of your comfort zone and never taking yourself too seriously.
She called on her own high school experiences to tell this timeless story, explaining how she sought to make a movie that is a generational anthem. “[It’s] something for this young generation to watch and rewatch, and feel seen and feel like they’ve been accurately represented. And to make an homage to the movies I grew up on — all the John Hughes movies.”
A teen comedy for the ages
While teen movies about girls have often been sidelined as “chick flicks,” the universal insights and sharp, hilarious banter of this female-forward cast appeal to anyone who loves classic teen comedies. The characters are all lovable in their own ways, and while Molly and Amy may belong squarely in the “nerd” camp, they’re hilariously relatable, surprisingly badass and anything but one-dimensional. They are the friends you’ve always wanted. In these overachievers’ quest for a wild night, you’ll encounter everything from drugs and hookups to awkward teachers, friendship feuds and a very entertaining murder mystery party…but at its core, Booksmart is an ode to friendship, second chances and pushing your boundaries.
Watch our interview with director Olivia Wilde:
Not your average high school story
The fresh-faced cast brings its own distinctive style to the film, with characters that at first glance follow the teen tropes (nerds, cool kids, jocks). But as the story progresses, these kids develop into fully formed, multi-dimensional people with relatable dilemmas and quirks. They’re all at a crossroads, trying to decide who they want to be as they make the scary, exhilarating jump into the next phase of their lives. Wilde manages to bust open all the stereotypes with a high school story that is light, compassionate and refreshingly antagonist-free. The “popular girl” is a gangly pixie alt chick, not the typically perfect cheerleader we’re used to seeing; the “mean girl” turns out to be into girls; and the “promiscuous girl” is super smart and unapologetic for her sexual experience.
Wilde admits she was a part of all these groups, and that’s why this movie represents her personal message. “I didn’t fit into a category, and people wanted me to. I was definitely a theatre nerd, but I also really loved sports, and I loved the nerds,” she said. “People were like, ‘What are you? Pick a lane!’ We do that to ourselves, and it’s just limiting. So I wanted this movie to encourage people to stop putting others in categories. Allow for complexity in yourselves.”
Wilde’s coming-of-age story is woke without trying to be, showing us just how smart a teen comedy can be. Prepare for all the belly laughs and nostalgic feels, because the only thing more feel-good than an LOL comedy is one that levels up with brains and heart.
Lana Gay talks Booksmart on our Hello Movies podcast:
See Booksmart with your best friend.
Behind all the crazy antics, high school politics and laughable moments is a touching story of two best friends who are about to set off on their own paths. This is one for you to share with your own bestie. It’s sure to leave you reminiscing about how your teenage years played out.