Movie Review by Cindy Summers
4 palm trees out of 4
Booksmart is a coming of age comedy about two high school seniors, Molly and Amy, on their way to graduation when they come to the realization that they’ve spent all their time working hard thinking they’ll get ahead, only to discover that they’re on pace with all the other students that enjoyed their high school days partying and slacking off. Released by United Artists, Directed by Olivia Wilde, and Written by Katie Silberman, Emily Halpern, Susanna Fogel and Sarah Haskins. Starring Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy.
The chemistry between Dever and Feldstein is phenomenal, and their on screen friendship is endlessly comical and believable. Though outcasts among their peers, they both have strong, somewhat misguided confidence in themselves fueled by constantly supporting and inspiring each other.
Molly is on her way to Yale and graduating as class valedictorian, while Amy is heading to Botswana to help women and right behind Molly as salutatorian. Molly is the driving force behind the duos escapades as they go from party to party throughout the town searching for the big graduation party with all the popular students, including Amy’s crush.
Interestingly, Amy is gay, though has had no physical experience, just a crush on another seemingly gay girl, and her sexuality is strongly supported by her best friend and parents, who think Amy and Molly are a couple due to the amount of time they spend together.
The movie touches on some somewhat taboo subjects, such as teen masturbation, but does so in a way that disarms the audience with humor and hilarious comedic timing. It also presents homosexuality as an openly accepted way of life between the students, and even with the parents and teachers as well.
Beanie Feldstein is fierce as Molly, and truly embodies the spirit of an awkward academic outsider. Kaitlyn Dever is well cast in her role as Amy, the quieter of the two who is focused finding a nice girl to have her first experience with and does well at portraying the confusion and vulnerability that comes with teen sexuality.
Additional standouts are Billie Lourd as Gigi, a wild party girl who strangely pops up doing random things everywhere Molly and Amy end up, and Skyler Gisondo as Jared who outwardly seems superficial and not so bright, but is actually very conscientious coming to the rescue in his own way several times in the movie.
I found myself laughing out loud throughout the movie, but there were also touching moments of kindness and several unexpected twists that have you rooting for the two to succeed. It also does very well at depicting how teenage life can be so exciting, confusing, awkward and challenging all at the same time and has a genuine way of sharing it from the teen perspective.
Rated R – 105m