Booksmart

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Booksmart is a new coming-of-age comedy filled with a lot of laughs and a wonderful young cast that all have bright futures ahead of them.  I have heard great hyperbole from some on this movie so I went in with high expectations.  While the film may not have reached the heights I expected, it was a ton of fun and certainly a nice addition to the genre.

Booksmart focused on the friendship between Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), lifelong friends who had spent their high school years studying and working hard in order to get into a good college, only to find out, to their horror, that the high school students who spent their time partying were also getting into good colleges.

Finding the situation unfair, the girls decided that they would go out partying the night before graduation to make up for lost time.

I came into this movie with the thought that this might be similar to last year’s great movie, Eighth Grade, but with more humor.  However, that was not the vibe that I got from Booksmart.  It was much more like Superbad.

I have mentioned this before, but I have a bias toward movies that portray school or school staff in an unrealistic manner.  Being a teacher myself, when a film has moments that make me think that something would never happen in any school, it pulls me out of the film, and, unfortunately, there are several moments like that in this movie.

Sure, there are situations that can be exaggerated for humor effect, but some things just would never happen and those hurt the film for me.

There is absolutely no denying, though, that this young cast is wonderful and many of them have bright careers ahead of them.  Then, the characters shown here initially seem to be the one note, stereotypical type characters you see in high school comedies like this but they all have more unexpected depth that shines through as the film progresses.

In particular, a shout out to Skyler Gisondo (from Santa Clarita Diet) whose character is much more than he appears.  Billie Lourd, who plays Gigi, is one of the best running gags in the film.  Several of the young actors receive important scenes that show what it can be like in the high school world.

There are some great laughs, but I have to say there was never any time that I was laughing too hard.  There were some solid humor, but not laugh until my stomach hurt type of humor.

The most important part of the film is the relationship between Amy and Molly and you never fail to believe that they are as close as they can be.  The connection with them is clear and apparent.   Some of the relationships between the girls and their classmates do not work as well, but services the film fine.  There are some funny cameos from Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis.

Booksmart marks the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde and she does a fantastic job.  The film looks tremendous and each shot tells a story.  The cast is talented and the characters are much more than they seem.  Booksmart is a funny, poignant film that gives us a different look at the teenage experience.

3.85 stars

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