The teen comedy just exploded. After decades of the same jocks and stoners, cheerleaders and nerds, audiences have been craving a new type of teen comedy. Something real. “Booksmart” delivers that need. Filled to the brim with youthful hope, anxiety and what it actually feels like to be on the outskirts of society, first time director Olivia Wilde transports the viewer into the terrifying world of high school.
“Booksmart” stars Kaitlyn Dever (Amy) and Beanie Feldstein (Molly) as best friends and over achievers who discover on the last day of school that their hard partying peers also got into top colleges. Facing an existential crisis, Amy and Molly decide to party the day before graduation and make up for lost time. What happens next is a rollercoaster ride of gags, self discovery and ultimately redemption for both girls.
The cast is the icing on the cake of “Booksmart.” Kaitlin Dever and Beanie Feldstein shine as more than just stereotypical nerds, as each girl has their own identities and aspirations. Feldstein established herself as an upcoming talent with her portrayal of Molly as an the exuberant leader and valedictorian without an ounce of self awareness. Amy is Molly’s conscience, the more hesitant and thoughtful of the two. Not only is Dever a skilled comedian, but deserves accolades for representing one of the few relatable and realistic queer teeangers onscreen.
Scene stealer Jessica Williams plays the cool teacher, along with Billie Lourd as a chaotic party girl. The soundtrack also elevates the film, with upbeat pop and hip hop energizing each scene. Almost every character has a theme song and the rousing melodies of Leikeli47 to Perfume Genius enhance moods already present in the script, rather than force emotion.
With a racially diverse and sexually fluid cast of characters, “Booksmart” reflects the socially progressive attitudes of today’s youth, with quippy remarks and name checks from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Rosa Parks. That’s not to say “Booksmart” isn’t flawed. Economic disparity is never addressed, with all of the characters living ridiculously lavish lives. The ease at which everyone is able to attend ivy leagues and access to quality education overlooks the reality of most high school experiences. However, themes of teenage lust, repression and regret, regardless of context, are genuinely explored.
“Booksmart” is recommended viewing not just for highschool students, but for anyone who has ever felt lost and out of place in the face of change. And it’s fabulous.