The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde, Booksmart follows Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), two overachieving high school seniors who feel they missed out on enjoying high school and try to make up for it in their night before graduation.
I heard a lot of positive buzz going into Booksmart, and fortunately, everything I heard was true. This is a movie that really did live up to the hype for me, and probably took the spot as my favorite this year so far. The comedy hits pretty hard, but I think what’s more fascinating about this is how fantastic the entire cast is. Every supporting character gets their moment, and they, for the most part, steal the show. I can name so many moments in this that had me laughing embarrassingly loud, built off genuine interest in all of the characters in this.
But the two leads are also great. Their chemistry is what holds the film together, and provides a lot of its comedy. As much as the phrase is tossed around, it really is woke Superbad.
I can’t stress enough how great the acting is here, though. I genuinely felt some of the emotional beats in the second half because of the fantastic work by the two leads, and they’re natural and built up to. The end of second-act conflict moment is nowhere near as forced as it is in most comedies. Booksmart also has this crazy ability to get you to really care and sympathize with every character. It plays against the high school movie stereotypes well and gives everyone layers.
Again, though, it’s really, really funny. The jokes know their limits and when to stop, and never feel like they’re really trying for the laugh. Also, the soundtrack (and the score too!) to this is so awesome.
I also wanted to note Olivia Wilde’s direction of this. She gave this movie a distinct feel and really brought out the comedy. Also, the cinematography here isn’t just some of the best I’ve seen in a comedy, it’s some of the best I’ve seen in general recently. Booksmart actually looks like a movie, with it’s own color palette and a lot of long takes throughout! Really interesting stuff there, as is the super clever editing. It knows when to take its time and when to keep going, often with purposefully jarring cuts that brings a number of big laughs.
I’m hard pressed to find anything wrong with this. Everyone, please, go out and support Booksmart. This movie deserves it.