While characters have crushes, the movie’s goal isn’t romance but rather the complexities of friendship and of life itself (control and chaos). There are the two leads, Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, both of whom we’ve seen before but not like this.
booksmart soundtrack – In ‘Booksmart,’ These Girls Just Want To Belong
Booksmart” is a delightful entry in a tired genre: the teens-go-wild comedy. In the new movie Booksmart,” high school senior Molly (Beanie Feldstein) resolves to attend a blowout house party the night before graduation, worrying that she and her best friend Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) will become the girls who missed out” on fun.
It’s specific to the experience and pressures of being a teen on the cusp of adulthood today, but it’s also timeless. It’s the kind of movie I am so glad the royal babies—my newborn twin nephews!—will have to watch when they’re older. More than that, that young girls will have to watch. It will be the new greatest sleepover movie.
Director Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart” is a slapstick bildungsroman that follows two best friends on their last day of school as they learn to lighten—and light—up. It mixes the raunchy romp of Seth Rogen-Judd Apatow bro-coms (Superbad,” Knocked Up” and Neighbors”) with John Hughes’ nostalgia while simultaneously charting its own grrl power” path.
The story follows Dever and Feldstein’s characters, two academic superstars and best friends who, on the eve of their high school graduation, suddenly realize that they should have worked less and played more. Determined never to fall short of their peers, the girls set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one night.
Rocked by the discovery that they didn’t have to be recluses to reach their goals — and that their smugness about their classmates’ presumed futures was totally unmerited — Amy and Molly decide that they’re going to go hard on the night before graduation and see what they were missing. Which means, as always, that they’re going to a party thrown by one of their classmates,.
Just as Jonah Hill forces the meek Michael Cera into partying and doing crazy stuff in Superbad, Molly does this to Amy. She’s a shy lesbian, who has a crush on a tomboyish skater girl. When they get invited to a party she’ll be at, they figure they have to go. This is because they found out all the slacker kids that just partied and didn’t seem to care much for school…are actually going to some prestigious colleges.
The substantive high school comedy has been a niche offering for years now — The Edge of Seventeen ,” The Perks of Being a Wallflower ” and The Spectacular Now ,” three recent examples of smart movies set in teenage worlds, each failed to reach $20 million in total box office. Booksmart” is right in line with those.
Molly and Amy discover that what everyone else is looking for on this final night of high school is the one thing they have together: belonging. Their honest friendship, made of two imperfect people who can be themselves and accept each other through thick and thin, is an accomplishment greater than valedictorian honors or bedding the hottest guy or girl at the party. And that’s a lesson I would happily teach my students.
What bothered me about Bridesmaids, which everyone called The Hangover with women” is that although it had many funny scenes, I didn’t buy adult women acting that way. It was a pleasant surprise that all these characters acted like high school kids. It was also a pleasant surprise that it wasn’t mean-spirited. When Molly (Beanie Feldstein) is in a bathroom stall, and people come in and make fun of her…it’s not about her weight. It’s about the fact that she has a horrible personality. In another scene, when a gay kid goes to the front of the class to talk about his Shakespeare in the Park….ing lot of CVS” they don’t make fun of his sexuality. They’re mocking the event, or the mere fact that somebody is getting up in front of the class to bore them about something they don’t care about.
This movie is getting so over-hyped. Critics are saying it’s the best film of the year. They’re calling it one of the best high school flicks ever. It’s basically Superbad with girls. The Jonah Hill character is played by his sister Beanie Feldstein. The Michael Cera character is played by Kaitlyn Devers (who reminded me of Ellen Page in Juno). This isn’t as good as Superbad, Mean Girls, Easy A, Love, Simon, Ladybird, Generation X, Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and so many other teen coming-of-age party films. But, who cares? It’s still a blast, and spending an hour and 45 minutes with these two lovely girls is a fine way to enjoy your evening at the theatre. And speaking of Lady Bird…it’s great that a terrific supporting character in that movie was given a leading role to show her talents.
What makes Booksmart land so delightfully is Wilde’s handle on exactly how seriously to take her neurotic heroines. Molly and Amy are essentially good, uncool girls, but they are so invested in their identity as good, uncool girls that they’re blind to how condescending they can be to the people they assume are looking down at them. (Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen also touched on this dynamic to more dramatic effect.) The film doesn’t punish them for this so much as poke well-intentioned fun at them, as well as every other goofball, doofus, and oblivious rich kid peer of theirs. Wilde builds out a fantastically colorful high-school ensemble , with nearly every individual getting a memorable mini-arc within the cacophony — from the intensely self-serious drama gays (Noah Galvin and Austin Crute) to the desperate-to-be-liked billionaire’s son (Skyler Gisondo) to the hot girl bully (Diana Silvers). It’s a raunchy but ultimately empathetic Greek chorus of teenage idiocy.
Annapurna, founded and run by the auteur-minded financier Megan Ellison (yes, of that Silicon Valley Ellison family ), and UA took a specific approach: They marketed the movie heavily on social media, where its teen audience lives, and softly on TV, where it doesn’t (and where time is expensive ). In this light, Booksmart” results may not be a question of audience — they’re a question of how a studio reached that audience.
The original series of The L Word is infamous for dismissing Alice’s and Tina’s bisexuality, and so far, it’s hard to tell whether Generation Q will do much better. For its part, Tales of the City sees Ellen Page’s Shawna repeatedly hooking up with husband-and-wife couple Eli and Inka, but the series drops the ball on exploring that storyline more deeply. For me, recognizing my attraction to men as legitimate—and making my own decisions about how I wanted to engage with that part of myself—was just as crucial to embracing my bisexuality as realizing I liked women and nonbinary people in the first place. So seeing Victoria Ruesga’s queer-coded Ryan make out with Mason Gooding’s traditional jock character, Nick, in Booksmart, especially after flirting with Amy through the night, hit close to home.
To be sure, the movie also has some easy-to-spot shortcomings, which are, frankly, criticisms most films in Hollywood deserve: Its story revolves around the experience of white women, shunting its characters of color into secondary, albeit charming, roles. Booksmart is also blind to the role that class and privilege play in the experiences and choices of its characters. This becomes an actual storytelling problem if you squint too hard, through the leaning towers of pizza boxes, artful penis bathroom graffiti, and sexual predator gags. There’s also plenty that Booksmart simply isn’t. It’s neither an indie feature helmed by a seasoned director and writer, nor a major studio venture with instantly recognizable (male) talent, like say Judd Apatow at the height of his Superbad days.
As wonderful as it was to watch a movie about strong and supportive female friendships, it was just as refreshing to see it set in a high school that’s full of diverse students, different sexual orientations and gender expressions. The supporting cast is just as wonderfully funny as the stars and is given something more to do than be the token high school stereotypes. In fact, many of Molly’s first impressions of her classmates turn out to be wrong, and while their characters may not get the full in-depth exploration, they weren’t reduced to one trait or reductive punchline.
Nobody is at that party. Well, one crazy girl is. She’s played by Billie Lourd (daughter of Carrie Fisher), and she steals every scene she’s in (although I got tired of her by the third act). It’s that typical character that is wacky, but funny, shows up everywhere and always has the strongest psychedelic drugs (which creates a rather clever stop motion segment with the girls as Barbie dolls).
The one dumb thing that Molly ever did was to judge her peers according to categories and appearances, and Booksmart” gently teaches her a lesson by giving everyone else the same privileges she claims for herself and foists on Amy: to play against type; to be surprising; to change.
It’s tough to know whether another studio would have done it better. But chew on this: as a distributor, Annapurna had three notable movies it went wide with recently: the Dick Cheney dark comedy Vice ,” the genre race parable Sorry to Bother You ” and the superhero biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” The highest-grossing was Vice” with $8 million. Marston” barely got to $700,000.
Feldstein and Dever are perfectly matched to bounce off of each other’s personalities, even if their characters seem similar at first glance. Playing the best friend part in Lady Bird ,” Feldstein had limited screentime to show off her comic chops, but it was obvious that she already had great timing and hilarious exaggerated reactions. Given the spotlight in Booksmart,” she takes her antics to 11 with a confident and determined energy for her misguided and strongwilled character. Dever makes a lot of Amy’s shy girl persona and her quiet crush on another girl. She subtly plays out Amy’s mortification at her parents’ cutesy enthusiasm, her reluctance to be honest about her feelings and her protective loyalty to Molly, even when she feels overwhelmed by her friend’s bombastic personality.
Writers Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman also deserve praise. The screenplay for Booksmart” mixes laugh-out-loud humor (the doll fantasy sequence is the funniest scene I’ve seen this year) with characters crafted so winningly you are pulling for them while laughing at them and with them. The smart script also offers plenty of surprises.
I actually walked out of this movie at the point two girls were ripping off each other’s clothes at a party. I get that there was maybe a positive overall message, which is why I went to see it on the first place, but I wasn’t willing to walk through the mess of the movie to see them get to it. If this is the new normal in high school, perhaps more kids should be home schooled.
No matter. Booksmart” gives the girls onscreen and their older sisters behind it a chance to have fun in ways silly, salty, and magnanimous toward all concerned. Despite what the title says, it’s movie-smart, too. This summer, raunchy teen comedy Booksmart earned rave reviews, earning cult status. Here are the most hilarious quotes from the Olivia Wilde film.
On one level, Wilde’s point about results is fair. Hollywood executives look at comparable movies when deciding on a greenlight. The fact that Booksmart” didn’t open big could give some executives eyeing similar films pause. The director Olivia Wilde narrates a sequence from her film.
From Booksmart to Midsommar, here are our picks of 2019 movies that, while niche, are bound to make their mark with the right audience. Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.
This somewhat surprising swerve, in which the script from four women (Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman) rejects the idea that smart kids are un-fun and fun kids are un-smart, proves critical. Molly and Amy are not really victims of a social pecking order. They have largely isolated themselves unnecessarily, and the insight here is that that, in fact, is many people’s great high school regret. It’s not the things you couldn’t have, but the things you thought you couldn’t have.
And Dever and Feldstein are just incredibly good company. Feldstein, whose brother Jonah Hill was part of another excellent teen comedy (Superbad”), has the show-stopping performance but even better is the more deadpan Dever. Just like their characters, they have big futures in store.