Another ‘Chick Flick’ touches a nerve. This time however, it is in the most delightful of ways! Booksmart took me back to those awkward, delicious moments in high school that only the truly young and unfettered teenager can experience. I recognized everyone in this movie, done with just a slight bit of movie flare to make them iconic, but not a joke or unrelatable. Yes everyone was a troupe or stereotype, but I also knew a lot of these troupes too. I would have liked to see a few of them turned on their heads, but the movie did a great job of hitting its comedic notes and not going so far I was too uncomfortable to laugh.
While Molly and Amy chose to rise above their peers and focus on academics so they could get into good schools, their peers were busy having fun, getting a life and also getting into good schools. Me I was more like Gigi in school or T ripple A, that weird girl everyone ridiculed and made up rumors about. The only thing missing from this movie was sexual assault but hey, it’s a comedy so let’s keep it light, right!
Let’s unpack some of this movie shall we? Molly and Amy’s confidence ruled. While I played at being that confident and was really chicken shit inside, they thought they were the shit! They felt their superiority fully, which is filmed so well in the opening scene as we watch them strut to a rhythm only they can hear. Who needs music when your awesome! This scene is edited beautifully as it goes from fun – with music – to awkward – silent – and we see them in reality.
Could they be faking it? I was good at it, I had everyone fooled. I remember one mourning during my weekly “Skip Breakfast” at the bagel shop. I ran into a senior who joined me. As we talked he admitted he had liked me for a while but was always afraid to ask me out. I walked to school looking so angry he was afraid I’d bite his head off if he stopped to talk to me. And considering I put my cigarettes out at the school door, it was obvious I did not give a fuck what anyone else thought. I really had them fooled, because I definitely cared what everyone thought. I just hated school and figured most of the people in it hated me. Were Molly and Amy the same?
On the Last day of school Molly’s world is shaken as she overhears a group of kids talking about her in the coed bathroom. (Same thing happened to me in my middle school Library, only it was my friends and it was devastating) Molly handled it like a boss and confronts them only to find out that instead of being superior to these people she is just like them. They are going to good schools too, Tripple A is even going to Yale! Only instead of spending all of high school studying and ignoring fun, they partied and acted like teenagers too. Freak out in 5-4-3-2-1.
The cinematography by Jason McCormick is fantastic at this point! The ‘water balloon’ shots are absolutely beautiful. I adore the time lapse face shot, the use of framing and color. I love the way the entire movie is shot, but this was my favorite scene.
When Molly comes back to reality she decides that they must party on this, their last night of high school. Thus the premise of the movie and so the festivities begin.
While some of the humor is crude, it is done with a restraint that Super bad lacked. Those dramatic scenes in the movie serve to give this film a vulnerability it needs. At times I laughed so hard tears came out. At other times I worried if their friendship would make it. While I agree that it is relying on a traditional story line, it is told with skill, sensitivity and humor that comes right up to the line. I went to a 4pm showing so the crowd was older. The couple next to me was much older. I loved their response at the end when the lights came up at the end. The wife sat silent and the guy said, “Well I thought it was funny.” Me too. If you need something to take you mind off a few things and just laugh, this is a movie to see.
Booksmart (US Release date 5/24/2019)
Director: Olivia Wilde
Writers: Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Skyler Gisondo, Molly Gordon, Billie Lourd