Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart first premiered at South By Southwest (SXSW)‘s Film Festival on March 11. The film’s wide release took place May 24, though some lucky fans got to catch early screenings.
When I first learned about this film, all I knew was the title and a brief summary of what it was about. And that was enough to get me hooked. A movie about two smart girls ready to graduate but realize they worked too hard and didn’t play enough? Count me in! A movie directed by a woman? Count me in! A movie script written by not one but FOUR women? Count me in!
Here is our full review of Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart. Minor spoilers ahead!
On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.
Cast & Crew
- Kaitlyn Dever as Amy
- Beanie Feldstein as Molly
- Billie Lourd as Gigi
- Mason Gooding as Nick
- Victoria Ruesga as Ryan
- Skyler Gisondo as Jared
- Lisa Kudrow as Charmaine
- Jason Sudeikis as Principal Brown
- Jessica Williams as Miss Fine
- Will Forte as Doug
Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman co-wrote the script. Will Ferrell,, Jillian Longnecker, Adam McKay, Scott Robertson, and Alex G. Scott were executive producers. Dan Nakamura composed the music.
The plot was relateable
As someone who graduated from high school in 2011 and absolutely hated those four years of it, I found the plot very relateable. My nose was buried deep in books and I studied my ass off, just like Amy and Molly, to get good grades and get into a good school (hook em!) in my state. The girls had only each other and I had a great gal pal during those four years too. Did we party our asses off the night before graduation? Sadly no.
The plot resonated with me more toward the end when Amy and Molly finally make it to Ryan’s party, the party everyone is hyping about. In my mind, the destination didn’t really matter; usually, it’s the journey that matters more. I was wrong here: both the journey and the destination mattered. The film took a deeper, raw turn at this point and it just opened my eyes: this film was more than a comedy about two booksmart high school girls. Olivia Wilde’s direction, the shots taken during this party, the acting from not just Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein but also the actors who played their classmates was fantastic.
Not too big on tropes
I guess what usually was a turn-off for me regarding movies centered on high school students was the prolific amount of tropes. Jocks. Emo kids. The girl labeled as a slut (Triple A, in this case)… I hated those tropes, and while Booksmart did have some of that, it wasn’t over-the-top.
Normally in these films, there’s always a love triangle. Except here it’s more like a crush rectangle… I won’t spoil this part, but even when the girls find out their respective crushes don’t like them, they’re not the type to get angry or jealous about it. And I’m glad because this film isn’t that sort of high school film. It’s not about their crushes; it’s about their friendship.
This movie got real
Early on in the film, Amy and Molly had a scene where they talked about masturbation. Nothing crazy. Just two girls in a room, having an honest discussion (and some joking around) about masturbation. There’s not a lot of films out that pull this off OR EVEN INCLUDE THIS SORT OF SCENE.
Honestly, this was the movie I needed to see when I was in high school. I wish we had seen more of these movies in theaters back then.
Molly is the sort of girl who plans ahead for everything. But as the night before graduation taught her, things don’t always go according to plan. The girls jumped from party to party before ending up at Nick’s party. And overall, the film delivered a good message, a good reminder to us that life throws us curveballs sometimes.
And also, make sure to have CONSENSUAL SEX! All teens need to know this.
Another message that stood out to me, going through my feelings from the movie and from my own experiences in high school, was that appearances and labels are superficial. This is obvious but sometimes we get lost in our own worlds that we forget this message. Do we really know our classmates? We have all these labels and when you only know someone by that label and their appearance, we seem to forget that they have something real to offer.
If you’re looking for a feel-good movie to watch, I highly recommend Booksmart. It’s not just another comedy. It’s not just another high school movie. It’s a hysterical, raw film about girls growing into the next phase in their life. For women, by women. Give it a chance.
We also had the pleasure of attending Olivia Wilde’s keynote speech at SXSW where we talked about her journey from start to finish, creating this film. You can read our recap of Wilde’s speech. For more SXSW-related coverage, visit our SXSW page.
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Featured image credit: Annapurna Pictures