Masters Degree Level High School Comedy: Our Review of ‘Booksmart’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 24, 2019
Masters Degree Level High School Comedy: Our Review of ‘Booksmart’

Everyone deserves to go a little wild sometimes…

Booksmart is so much more then “Superbad For Girls” or any other useless hyperbole like that.  It’s not only a ridiculously strong feature directing debut from actor Olivia Wilde but it’s the kind of joyous coming of age cinematic experience that honest to god only comes around once a generation.

Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, Booksmart is an unfiltered comedy about high school friendships and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation.

Yeah it borrows ideas from a VERY well worn genre, but it’s rare to see  execution like this in the comedy genre as it’s smart, funny and most importantly; relevant.  This movie will be relevant and the bench mark for other comedies for years to come.

For a first time feature filmmaker, I can’t gush enough about how Olivia Wilde is just immaculately on point here, it’s kind of ridiculous.  In concert with cinematography from Jason McCormick and a score from Dan The Automator, this movie looks ridiculously good and it plays with frenetic energy from beginning to end.  Wilde is really in the tune with the script from Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman as it introduces characters, cracks jokes yet still keeps us engaged with our lead characters and the story that they are ultimately going to tell.  Wilde keeps it all going fast and it never ever drags thanks to the sharp writing and the understanding of the importance to keep the action jumping on this one fateful night for our heroines.

Beanie Feldstein isn’t quite a household name yet…but she’s on her way.  You may know her from her great turn in Lady Bird back in 2017, but here in Booksmart as Molly, the A-typical academically driven student she lays claim to being a star in waiting.  Along with Kaitlyn Dever she drives this comedy duo like she’s driving down the autobahn and she allows her character to drift from manically driven to hopeful young woman who all of a sudden feels like she’s missed out on the entire High School experience because she’s been studying too much.  She ropes us in and never lets us go on the quest to FINALLY accomplish their school years.  Dever is excellent opposite her as the essential “straight” woman to this comedic duo (which makes the fact that her character is gay all that more amazing).  Together we see two young women who are transitioning into a different stage of their lives and they simply want to make sure that they make the most of it.  It’s the kind of story we can all relate to, across lines of gender and sexual orientation, plus it’s a true reminder of gender equality because in these situations both men AND women can do some hilariously inappropriate shit.

While Dever and Feldstein do carry the bulk of the load in this film exceptionally well there’s some strong support work in small roles from Jessica Williams as the teacher who’s a little too familiar with her students, the multi-tasking principal in Jason Sudekis and Will Forte and Lisa Kudrow as supportive yet hilariously awkward parents of Dever’s Amy.  Not to mention Billie Lourd as the eccentric rich girl who you’ll immediately want to see in a spin off of this film.

It’s hard to resist throwing out rampant hyperbole for Booksmart because quite honestly this movie just doesn’t have any business being as good as it actually is.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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