The teenage coming of age comedy has long been a regular entry into the movie landscape each year. Some I enjoy like Clueless and Juno and others I am more mixed on like Edge of Seventeen and Lady Bird. At times the sullen angry teen can be hard for me to connect with and leave me feeling drained (I’m probably the only one who connected much more with the mother character in Lady Bird than the title character). Recently all of film twitter has been abuzz about the latest entry called Booksmart, and I’m delighted to tell you I agree with the buzz. While very raunchy I found Booksmart to be a funny comedy but also a treatise on the importance of friendship.
Booksmart stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as 2 seniors in high school who realize they missed out on all the ‘fun’ of high school because they were too concerned with academics. To make up for it they decide to have the ultimate night of partying (and most of the night is spent trying to get to the party). It’s a pretty simple premise but executed very well.
My favorite part of Booksmart is the funny script. It reminded me of a more R-rated Juno. In particular Billie Lourd as the effervescent new-age Gigi was hilarious. I also enjoyed Jason Sudeikis in a small role as the uber-driving principal. I wouldn’t be surprised if a decade from now we look back at much of the cast going on to be big stars like we do with Dazed and Confused.
There are also some very creative sequences. As a stop-motion animation fan I especially loved a surprise Barbie doll, stop motion segment. It kind of reminded me of the stop motion in the 80s teen comedy Better Off Dead.
As far as any negatives of Booksmart, some of the cast felt under-used. In particular Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte as Amy’s parents only had a few scenes and they are such funny actors I wish they had gotten more. I would also have liked to have seen more of Jared (Skyler Gisondo) and Molly together to buy what happens at the end with their characters.
Mostly I loved the theme of friendship and seeing Amy and Molly’s relationship grow and change. They are characters who think they know the other perfectly but in fact they have much to learn. I particularly loved a scene towards the end when they get in a big fight and the frustrations of adolescence come out. That kind of pent-up anger at the world I can relate to much more than characters who are mean-spirited and hateful to each other (Edge of 17…).
Just a reminder Booksmart is a very raunchy movie and is not for everyone. It was definitely out of my comfort zone but sometimes I take chances and push myself a bit. In the end, I’m glad I did.
7.5 out of 10
Also I give a huge frown to Molly’s hideous yellow turtleneck!