Imagine going your entire life thinking you could only eat chocolate or vanilla ice cream only to learn – right as you near oblivion that this entire time, you could’ve had both. That is essentially the plot of “Booksmart”. Olivia Wilde made her standout directorial debut with this film, a coming-of-age comedy starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein.
The movie follows Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), two high school seniors who have spent their entire academic career focusing solely on getting good grades so that they could get into the best universities. When their classmates reveal that they too got into great schools after focusing on academics and fun, Molly makes it her mission to make sure they both attend the wildest party they can find before high school is officially over. This movie made me nostalgic for the
bad good ol’ days of high school. I could see myself and people from my graduating class in every single one of these characters, even in the over-the-top comedic situations we found them in.
The characters in “Booksmart” are all kids that we knew and loved and hated and loved to hate in high school – or at least the high school that exists in every single teen movie ever made. We have the theater nerds, the hot guy who is someone friends with everyone, the hot mess, the guy who tries too hard, the burnout, and so on and so forth. What made “Booksmart” fun is that it took these characters who are usually nothing more that stereotypes first invented in “The Breakfast Club” and gave them some dimension. The girl who hooks up with enough guys to earn a not-so-cute nickname isn’t supposed to also get into a top University, but in this story, she does.
Molly and Amy are the nerds who don’t have any friends outside of each other and usually this would be because the other kids shun them. In this movie the nerds don’t have friends because they just aren’t likable. Molly and Amy have spent their entire academic career focusing on grades and looking down on everyone. It makes sense that their classmates don’t want to hang out with them.
The movie is also loads of fun (and even better, has a fantastic soundtrack). The girls’ multiple attempts at actually finding Nick’s Aunt’s house is “Broad City” meets “Superbad” making it a 10 on the hilarity scale. I also loved that Molly and Amy’s relationship didn’t turn into any kind of weird bff romance just because one of the characters is attracted to girls. The whole “my one true love was actually my best friend the entire time!” is easy, cheap, and boring. I’ve very glad this story didn’t take that route.
“Booksmart” is one of the most enjoyable teen movies of the decade and I am left hoping that it has opened the door to more and more inclusive come-of-age movies.