Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein of “Lady Bird”) are determined to cram four years of sacrificing fun for one all-night party. After all, some of their “party-animal” classmates have done drugs, partied every weekend while Amy and Molly were in the library, and still were accepted at the same Ivy League college or prestigious NGO projects that the two BFFs sacrificed so much for. Popular vs. Intellectual: why not both? That is the question underpinning Booksmart.
Directed by Olivia Wilde, Booksmart has achieved a film worthy of comparison with the classic John Hughes’ films Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club. A teen comedy with girl power, Booksmart encapsulates an inchoate female empowerment evolving without Amy and Molly’s full comprehension. We have adolescent turmoil in which teenage angst over every word and glance from classmates has a surprising and clever twist.
There is pain and an ecstatic thrill of female bonding intertwined with a best-friend sort of communication that embodies not only trust without question– and in a sense, first love– but also the complicated issue of sexual identity.
Booksmart has wisdom and a humorous generosity in showing a glimpse of adulthood’s inevitable disappointments (played hilariously by Jason Sudeikis in one scene as a high school principal moonlighting as a Lyft driver.) It’s difficult to do comedy well, especially of teenagers through the lens of middle-aged directors and writers. Wilde gets the tone and subject matter just right, giving Amy and Molly the material to imbue their characters with the authentic and heartfelt voices of teenagers today. A delightful film for families with teenagers and for all of us who remember our teenage angst when many days and nights were both the best and worst of our lives.
Note: Now available on Netflix DVD.