Review of: Booksmart
Movie:
Annapurna Pictures
Version:
May 24, 2019

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On May 19, 2019
Last modified:May 19, 2019

Summary:

Coming-of-age stories will continue to be part of the movie landscape, but many don't capture an authentic voice. Booksmart's writers, Susanna Fogel and Emily Halpern, give this female-directed and female-led film a fresh and feminine look while raising the bar for all teen comedies to follow. 

Teen movies are not what they used to be. John Hughes defined the genre in the 80’s with his classics giving teens a vision of themselves on screen. Though the tropes of 80’s teen films mostly centered on male protagonists struggling to discover their version of manhood. Booksmart is a quirky comedy allowing a modern teen, female voice to speak for itself. This film doesn’t feel as if written by an out-of-touch adult judging the next generation for their phone use and social media. Rather Booksmart has a bold, feminist, and comedic perspective on what it means to be a teen today.

The Struggle is Real

The story follows teens, Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), known around school as anti-social and overly dedicated to homework. Molly attempts to feel noble over her underperforming and over-partying classmates, yet, when she realizes these students also got into good colleges and still managed to have fun in high school, she begins to think she did something wrong. With one nigh left to party before graduation she and Amy embark of an evening of adventure trying to make it to the biggest party of the year.
Beanie Feldstein & Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart
Beanie Feldstein & Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart (2019)

Cast of Characters

This film marks the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde with an excellent freshman effort. Booksmart’s best asset is the cast of characters around Molly and Amy. Billie Lourde’s Gigi is a scene-stealer with comedic guts that would make her mother, Carrie Fisher, proud. Noah Galvin is another stand-out as the so-very-extra drama leader, George. Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte are Amy’s overly supportive parents. Wilde’s husband and SNL alum, Jason Sudeikis is the school principal and occasional Uber driver.  All the while, the two leads are excellent and very believable grounding the reality of the film. Kaitlyn Dever cut her teeth on sitcom, Last Man Standing, so her comedic chops are not surprising. Beanie Feldstein is the younger sister of Jonah Hill, but this film puts her onto the comedy landscape all on her own.

The drama of this story is what gives the film its heart.  The relationship between Molly and Amy is the center piece creating sharp and tear-jerking scenes. Smoothly moving from comedy to drama, the story approaches the complexities of adulthood with an accurate and poignant tone. This focuses on the struggle to grow-up alongside a friend, realizing things will never be the same as the girls venture on different paths. Their one night of fun begins to look like their last night as a dynamic duo. Their friendship runs deep, but as things long unspoken come to light, the weight of growing up and moving on becomes all too real.

Billie Lourd, Booksmart (2019)
Billie Lourd, Booksmart (2019)

Girl Power

This film screams “girl power” through its modern take on cinematic feminism. There is a direct path from Sixteen Candles  to Easy A to Booksmart. All feature female leads, but as the eras have carried on, more power is granted to Booksmart‘s Amy and Molly by embracing their sexuality, intelligence, and politics. Coming-of-age stories will continue to be part of the movie landscape, but many don’t capture an authentic voice. Booksmart’s writers, Susanna Fogel and Emily Halpern, give this female-directed and female-led film a fresh and feminine look while raising the bar for all teen comedies to follow.

Want more movie reviews? Check out all our movie reviews here!

Coming-of-age stories will continue to be part of the movie landscape, but many don't capture an authentic voice. Booksmart's writers, Susanna Fogel and Emily Halpern, give this female-directed and female-led film a fresh and feminine look while raising the bar for all teen comedies to follow. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.