Sunday, May 26

Booksmart Review

By Emery Snyder @leeroy711
Director: Olivia Wilde
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow & Will Forte
Annapurna Pictures & Gloria Sanchez – May 24, 2019

On their last day before high-school graduation, bosom buddies, Amy (Dever) and Molly (Feldstein) are horrified to learn that all their academic efforts and seriousness have only gotten them exactly as far as the rest of the hoi polloi in their class. So naturally, in a ditch effort to make up for lost time and to show their classmates that they too know how to have fun, the two plan to blow the roof off of their comfort zones and party with their peers. Who could have imagined how difficult and complicated this would end up?

This is a formula we’ve seen before, largely because it works. CAN’T HARDLY WAIT, DAZED AND CONFUSED & of course, SUPERBAD all center around the archetypical nerdy high-schooler seizing upon the opportunity of graduation for an epic swan-song of coolness. The template exists, the only question remaining is whether it can be utilized to elevate the story to something that stands out. Well, this one had four credited writers (Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman) to do so but the resounding answer is: Yes, yes it can… This is a film that will be easily adopted and cherished by future generations. It will be endlessly quoted and requoted. It will be found replacing films like MEAN GIRLS and EASY A on the slumber party playlist. And you may even see lines from this movie silk-screened onto t-shirts at your local Target someday.

But alas, the impending cultural significance is not what makes this a good movie. What
elevates this film above so many others is the filmmakers’ obvious love for the characters that have been crafted here. Dever’s Amy is timid but thoughtful and patient. While Feldstein’s Molly assertiveness and confidence manifests itself to others as abrasiveness and arrogance. Together, the two complement and balance each other’s traits. This is typical of a lot of buddy comedies. But this film is for a new era. And these days, writers are asked to flesh out even the least supportive of a supporting cast. There are no expendables here, everyone gets their moment. This is especially impressive considering the pace at which this film clips along. Each tangential quest is used to color and realize the world that Amy and Molly are navigating.

This is an impressive directorial debut for Wilde. Equal parts absurdism, surrealism and expressionism are all tethered to core dedication of simply making a funny movie. Wilde is known for her political and social activism in various causes around the world. And although you could probably guess which way her politics lean, I don’t think you could sum up anything specifically profound or radical that this film is trying to say. It is a raunchy female-centric comedy, written and directed by all women, with a gay main character. But it never seems to heighten the fact of this rarity. If anything, it’s goal may only be to normalize this type of story and to inspire future storytellers. In that it succeeds.  

This is one of those very rare comedies that actually lives up to the promises made in its trailer. The ‘LOL’ moments are contextualized and colored by the film’s duo of heroines and the richness of their characters.

Emery’s Rating
4.5 out of 5 Stars
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