In 2007, a little coming of age-high school comedy, with a very modest budget of $20 million took the coming of age, modern high-school comedy canon by storm, and has yet to be trumped in over a decade. That little movie that could was Superbad, a film that was written by real-life best friend Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who, went on to becoming two of the most successful and prominent comedy writers of our generation. Generating real-life stories based on what happened to them, including the infamous period-blood dance scene, the cocaine-karaoke scene and other incredibly funny scenarios that we thought could ever happen in a million years, the two writers have a knack of garnering insatiable laughs with well-received, cortically and commercially successful films. Luckily for us, Superbad was a film that starred two breakout stars in Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, who would go on to becoming staples in the comedy world as well as the Seth Rogen’s comedy empire. But like all good things in this world, change is upon us. With the recent influx of female voices being heard and stories being told, we fast forward twelve years, and finally have our very own, female-centric Superbad with Booksmart. And as if destiny would have it, ironically enough, this kick-ass female story of missed opportunities and revelations delivers endless laughs, sometimes cries and funny enough, stars Jonah Hill’s little sister Beanie Feldstein. How’s that for a coincidence?
Directed by OIivia Wilde; yup, the actress of Tron, her and Drinking Buddies tackles directing duties and nails her debut feature film with so much heart, love and authenticity that Booksmart feels like a veteran comedy with constant one/two punch laughs, confidence and endless emotion. Stylistically relevant, adapting much of the real-life comedy that made the Rogen/Apatow comedies of the 2000s so successful, Wilde directs a script that has been in development for over a decade to reflect so many of the many truths of high-school youth today. Making the film contemporary with scenes including Uber, social media and of course implementing characters that aren’t only heterosexual, allows the film’s fresh vibes to come naturally off the screen, even if Amy and Molly’s (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) cool personalities don’t.
Booksmart is a movie that we have been waiting for, for a long time. The film’s hook may be a completely authentic female take on the high school experience, produced by Annapurna Pictures, headed by Megan Ellison, directed by a woman, starring two promising young female actresses, written entirely by women and edited by a woman, but I can assure you, these highly feminine factors are not the only reason to visit your multiplex this summer. Aside from being a female-centric comedy, after everything is said and done, it is a comedy, and I am here to attest to the fact that, it is really funny. Aside from the star-making performances of actresses Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, writers Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman, deliver quippy, snappy and hilarious dialogue that highlights the very different, yet strikingly similar high school personalities of their characters, without making them caricatures of figures we have come to expect from the high school comedy genre. Each character depicted in Booksmart are culminations of so many different personalities; mixing gender, sexuality, religions, class and cultures into real life characters that not only become relatable, but also become memorable. Booksmart highlights that jocks JUST aren’t jocks, and the gay students JUST aren’t gay. Every person depicted in the film is a version of someone we all knew or currently know in real life.
Although there is an array of comedy from supporting characters, the majority of the laughs stems from the bond and chemistry between our two amazing leads. While Dever and Feldstein bring true laughs to their characters Amy and Molly, unfortunately, both Amy and Molly feel like they have been missing out on their high school shenanigans. So, on the last day of high school before their graduation, Amy and Molly decide to go for it, and indulge in all the craziness that is high school, in one night. As expected, hilarity, craziness and debauchery ensues, and the two bets friends find themselves in very different places by the end of the night.
Booksmart is easily the funniest and smartest comedy of 2019.
Raunchy and totally inappropriate in so many scenes, Wilde’s Booksmart is a winning combination of American expectations for comedy films with many social expectations and commentary. Even though Amy and Molly got into their desired schools, working and studying their butts off for the whole course of high school, when Molly finds out that the slutty cheerleader archetype, the stoner and the jock all got into the same schools, becomes a little bit of a bittersweet realization. Not because it is completely unbelievable that this could happen, I mean, look at the United States and who is in power currently, but one thing that Booksmart fails to shed light to, which in coincidentally one of the narratives biggest driving forces, is how wealth, social status and people with power are able to get anything they want for themselves, as well as their children. Booksmart focuses less on the injustices of this narrative plot point, and goes balls-to-the-wall that injustice has scarred our two leads to lead a life of stricken studying and loneliness. Yet, somehow, this narrative point just becomes forgettable thanks to so much comedy gold.
Booksmart is not just a movie for women, the same way Superbad is not just a comedy film for men. Headed by star-making comedy performances buy its young leads, spewing with natural and raw natural talent from so many first time actors and a script and story with so much love and tender care, it is in my greatest hopes that this film, given its decision to have a wide release, be received with love, adoration and its deserving praise, given the film’s big heart and wildly imaginative scenarios. Booksmart is a no-brainer! Check out this film that is a huge A+ in our books.
Night Film Reviews: 8.5 Out of 10 Stars.
What did you think of Booksmart? Our generation’s Superbad? What did you think of the performances? Study up an leave your notes below!