Friday Film Review - "Booksmart"

May 31, 2019

A new film hits theaters just in time for graduation season.

For the new movie “Booksmart’ it’s easy to imagine the hook someone presented at a pitch meeting.  Instead of a wild comedy about horny misfit teen boys in high school, like “Superbad”, let’s do it with girls!

Fortunately, the result is funny, fast, and relatable enough to overcome the clichés.

We’re introduced to two fast friends who are ready to take on the world. Molly is the short Alpha of the pair, the class president and valedictorian. Amy is the shy one who came Out a few years ago, which has shocked—no one.

They are relentlessly studious—idealistic (I’m guessing either one would give up a pancreas for RBG)—and their idea of being Badass is getting a fake college ID so they could use the library.

 But on the verge of graduation, Molly discovers that all of the reprobate classmates she’s looked down upon, have also lined up respectable college gigs, or even jobs.

She has an epiphany and resolves that she and Amy will catch up on all the fun they’ve forfeited, on the last night before graduation.

The resulting high-jinx are nothing very heinous—even if they were recorded on their Permanent Records. For much of the running time, they’re trying to find the location of their school’s A No. 1 Wild Party—and going into one detour or blind alley after another.

What follows isn’t surprising. Molly and Amy find the party. They pursue their secret crushes. There’s heartbreak. A rift opens between the BFF’s. But there is a reconciliation, and miraculously, each of them finds a Mr. Right—and a Ms. Right—with the classmate they least expected.

The director, actress Olivia Wilde, working on her first feature, is skilled enough to create a seamless whole from the work of four writers.  And she has a good-hearted attitude toward all the high-school stereotypes—the shredders, the gay drama students, the pedal to the metal rich kid, the sullen rebel, etc. 

There’s attractive chemistry between the two stars.    Amy is Kaitlyn Dever, a busy young actress familiar from the sitcom “Last Man Standing.” Molly is Beanie Feldstein who was the heroine’s best friend in “Ladybird”—and is it a coincidence her older brother is Jonah Hill, whose breakout role was in “Superbad”?

“Booksmart’ is a familiar but fun graduation comedy and earns three-and-a-half tassels out of five.   For the Friday Film Review, I’m Rick Brough.