Every now and then I watch a movie that is so satisfying and so much fun that as soon as it ends I immediately want to start it over and watch it again. Booksmart was one of those movies.
My sister was in town for a week, and a friend told me I had to see this movie ASAP before its theater run was over. So I took my sister to see it, without knowing what it was about, and we had the most fun in a movie theater I’ve had in years.
In Booksmart we meet Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, Short Term 12, Beautiful Boy) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein, Lady Bird, Neighbors 2). They are best friends and it’s the last day of high school. They have been responsible for four years, studying hard, getting good grades, preparing for college, and taking their lives seriously. They have done so to the neglect of a wild-and-free teenage social life. Everyone they know partied the whole time, but class president Molly and soon-to-be-social-worker Amy did not squander their time like that. And it’s about to pay off because they got into kickass undergraduate programs.
But they soon find out that they’re not the only ones. All the partiers they know also made it into ivy league colleges somehow. “You guys don’t even care about school,” Molly says to one of them. “No, we just don’t only care about school,” she retorts. Utterly appalled, Molly has a crisis. Did she sacrifice years of good times needlessly? Did she miss out on a high school experience that could have been both academically successful and incredibly fun?
Now, Molly is out to make up for four years of missing out by having a wild night with her best friend. What follows is, classically, an unpredictable mess of a night full of high jinks and party madness.
From the movie’s opening scene to its end, both my sister and I were 100% on board. We instantly fell in love with Amy and Molly, and laughed almost constantly during their 24-hour journey.
Oh, and in addition to being led by two women, Booksmart is also directed by a woman. This is Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. And it is written by four women, all of whom are new names in screenwriting. There are a lot of new and exciting things happening here!
Truthfully, every single character in this movie brings something to the table, and they are all enjoyable and hilarious in their own ways. I appreciated how category-defying they are. While most high school movies divide people into distinct categories (the jocks, the nerds, the goths, etc.), the characters in Booksmart are much more fluid. Even the idea that you can be a partier and still get good enough grades to get into Harvard is unique for movies. (It’s one that I appreciate as a nerd who likes to party.)
And it’s super refreshing that the queer characters are normalized. For instance, there’s the way Amy's parents feel about her being a lesbian. It’s mentioned that they are Christians, and we see crosses and devotional decor on the walls in their home, but instead of making this an all-too-familiar "religious parents ashamed of their gay daughter" situation, the parents in Booksmart are totally cool with it. They're lovable people and who clearly support their daughter. I thought that was a really interesting character choice. The writers didn't need to do that, but they did, and it gives the movie depth and originality.
Booksmart’s pacing is also perfect. It never lets up. It skids from scene to scene, driven by an incredible soundtrack featuring a ton of bangers. Apt for a movie about partying, it made me feel like I was partying the whole time. (I would recommend pre-gaming for this movie.) Whatever the movie wanted me to feel, I felt at every step. It provided some good bonding time for my sister and me, and also made me nostalgic for all the good times I’ve had with friends. It was so much fun that we actually went to see it twice in the same week! And we still laughed throughout the second time.
This is honestly one of 2019’s best movies. Turn up the volume and watch Booksmart with someone you love. It is a guaranteed good time.