On the eve of their high school graduation, academic-achieving best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) realise they should have worked less and played more and are determined to have one night full of fun.
A film like Booksmart lives or dies on its characters and cast, but luckily the young cast of Booksmart are so brilliant and the characters are, for the most part, surprisingly three-dimensional.
Dever and Feldstein are fantastic as Amy and Molly. Their chemistry is so strong, and they are a great comedic double act. Amy and Molly’s relationship is incredibly realistic as they each encourage the other to talk to their crushes, dance in the street, and continuously complement each other in over the top fashion. Amy has a crush on Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) and her sexuality is presented as so normal it’s like a footnote to Amy’s character. She’s not the “token lesbian” of the school, instead, she’s more likely to be known as the smart yet slightly awkward best friend of the valedictorian. Molly is super bossy and almost strongarms Amy into their night of reckless fun. Out of the two, Molly is not so easy to connect with but as the film progresses it shows a different side to her.
There’s a scene where Molly and Amy’s relationship is pushed to the limit and that was a great showcase of Olivia Wilde’s talent as a director. The camera pans between the two friends as the music drowns everything out, making it seem like Molly and Amy are in their own bubble but at the same time, you can see more and more people stopping to watch the two of them.
The young supporting cast are all great too though a special shout out has to go to Billie Lourd for her portrayal of party-girl Gigi. Gigi is the kind of weird, hilarious and reckless character that seems to be everywhere, no matter how many different locations Amy and Molly go to find the best party in town.
The thing that makes Booksmart stand out is also the thing that hurts it. Booksmart is a coming-of-age comedy in the same vein as Superbad and its ilk but this time instead of teen boys talking about sex and wanting to get to the best party around, it’s teen girls instead. While it is a nice change of pace to see girls being the ones who make mistakes, living it larger than life and being equal parts endearing and inappropriate, a lot of the scenarios Molly and Amy get themselves into have been seen before.
Booksmart is fun and funny, though not as funny as it thinks it is, and has a strong friendship at its core. It takes a while for the film to find its feet and it’s not until Amy and Molly are in full party-hunting-mode that it figures out what it wants to be. The soundtrack is pretty killer though.
Directed by: Olivia Wilde
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Skyler Gisondo, Billie Lourd