In the Pantheon of classic teen flicks, many viewers may be familiar with such notable films like: Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Dirty Dancing, The Breakfast Club and 10 Things I Hate About You. All of these films are well known for defining the teen movie genre, and moving it forward in new and innovative. After seeing Booksmart, I think it deserves the same type of recognition.
The movie has seen critical acclaim since it’s premiere at the San Francisco Film Festival. The movie holds a solid 84 on Metacritic and a 97percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critic consensus stating “Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.”
The film is focused on two girls, Amy and Molly, as they are about to graduate from high school. The pair are well known throughout their school as being try hards and suck-ups, with Molly even being the class president. The two however, decide to finally have a night of fun after endlessly obsessing over studying and homework.
I’ve never really been that interested in teen movies, and am one of those people who isn’t greatly obsessed with the 80’s overload of “teen classics.” But, that doesn’t mean I completely avoid the genre either, as I adore such films like Eighth Grade, The Spectacular Now, and Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (one of my favorite films). I find myself being more harsh towards these films though, as they usually fall into the familiar cliches that surround the genre; originality isn’t really this genres strong suit.
Booksmart however, is one of those rare gems that springs out of its genre trappings and makes itself stand out from the rest of the rabble. One of the greatest things about the movie is the all star cast, which has no weak link. It’s rounded out by a great small ensemble that adds lots of extra humor as well as also helping set up the plot of the film nicely. The two supporting roles of Jared (Skyler Gisondo) and Gigi (Billie Lourd), are the biggest scene stealers of the movie, particularly Lourd, who I don’t think gets enough credit for anything she’s in. The breakout stars of the film are Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, who both are stars in the making; The two have great chemistry with each other and amazing to watch, as my attention was never dissuaded when they were on screen.
The script and direction are also both very well handed, piecing together an emotional and comedic coming of age story. One thing I would like to point out is that this film is actually directed by actress (and first time director) Olivia Wilde, who is well known for starring in many clunkers. I found this detail intriguing because when watching the film it almost seems like shes a veteran at this. I personally can’t wait to see what she does next.
Finally, we have the cinematography, which looks absolutely stunning. Not only are the transitions between scenes so smooth, but all the times when the music would take over the scene gave me goosebumps. There is one pool scene that was absolutely nostalgic and beautiful to look at. The one complaint I have with the film (and it is tiny) is that all the kids wear these cool, retro outfits; It’s not that the costuming isn’t great, it is, but not that many kids look that cool. Also, the box office reception for Booksmart has been fairly low, sitting at around 6 million right now, which is very annoying. So, if the movie peaks your interest, I would definitely recommend you go out and catch the film on the big screen.