Booksmart Review: Nothing Short Of An Instant Classic Work Hard, Play Hard

4.5

Summary

Nothing short of an instant classic, Booksmart is a wonderfully outlandish comedy that will have you laughing till the end.

Olivia Wilde’s directional debut Booksmart is nothing short of an instant classic. With a stellar cast of inspiring and upcoming talent Booksmart takes audiences on a coming of age journey that is refreshingly original and wildly fun.

Booksmart brings us the story of best friends Amy and Molly, whose youth so far has been focused on a monotonous life of hard work and study. Never looking beyond each other’s shoulders Amy and Molly are certainly not privy to the frequent chaos of teenage life. Limited in youthful experiences and sacrificing years of opportunities to ensure a place in college may not have paid off after all. Booksmart begins with Molly standing up for herself as she overhears some of her peers jabbing fun at her uptight and strict personality. Molly, granted a moment of bravery, rushes to their view with what she believes will be a scathing retort. After Molly gives her triumphant speech in which she explains that those mocking her will live lives of hardship with no prospects due to their reckless party habits, Molly is forced to eat her words. Turns out her fellow students who drank, partied and stayed up after midnight have all been offered places in college too, taking paths to success almost identical to Molly’s own.  With this new found information Molly is overwhelmed that she and best friend Amy have wasted so much time being goody two shoes when in fact they could have had a social life and gotten into college.

As miserable as this realization may seem at least the pair didn’t do it alone, the years of early bedtimes and intense study they shared creating an unbreakable bond of friendship. This being so, the extraordinary pair decide to make up for 4 years of lost invites to parties and rejections to hang out in one chaos-fuelled night. As anyone can imagine what lays ahead for them is a night of intense discovery and exposure to the world of youth culture and partying. As Amy and Molly move from party to party in search for the ultimate ‘let loose’ arena (aka the party of the most popular kid in school) they bump into a ridiculous ensemble of secondary characters that are surprisingly unique and outlandishly entertaining.

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Alisson Jones has worked miracles again to assemble an outstanding collection of unrecognized talent to bring Booksmart to life. Jones was previously responsible for also casting cult classic Superbad proving then and now that she clearly has a talent for discovering rising stars with a  knack for comedy. Protagonists Amy and Molly are played by Lady Bird’s Beanie Feldstein and Beautiful Boy’s Kaitlyn Dever, and the pair work harmoniously, showing unrivaled on-screen chemistry that is natural and authentic. Our protagonists take precedent in the course of their journey yet Booksmart provides ample opportunities for fantastic and amusing cameos, not to mention a surprisingly hilarious character of the name Gigi played by American Horror Story’s Billie Lourd. There is certainly a great array of talent on show. Booksmart truly is comical and rejuvenating in its reliability when it comes to modern humor and characters, and the cast delivers every line and joke with perfect justice.

Olivia Wilde has found her calling. Behind the screen, Wilde has achieved a phenomenal standard of entertainment for her first venture into the directing world. Wilde demonstrates passion and talent for her directing debut, with Booksmart being completely ridiculous, attractive and believable at the same time. Clever camera pans and creative dance numbers flourished with imaginative lighting offers viewers lavishly framed shots that add to the playful quirkiness of the movie. Wilde ensures audiences are put back into the shoes of youth as we remember the callous nature of being a teenager and laugh at the complete disregard for safety or maturity we had (or didn’t have) during our adolescent years. Wilde perfectly captures an authenticity that manifests itself numerous times throughout the film, whether it be the completely natural relationship between the protagonists or the awkward yet blasé way the characters approach conversations of sex. Booksmart is polished and high class, offering audiences a high-end cinema piece that also carries the warm and arty feel of indie charm.

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Overall Booksmart is a wonderfully outlandish comedy that will have you laughing till the end. With a talented cast, audiences will surely be swept up in the action and absurdity as Amy and Molly try to discover what it means to be young and stupid. The Booksmart script is free loving and chaotic, loose and unguided in its path. Artfully navigating themes of sexuality, identity, and self-worth in a ridiculous yet completely honest and respectful way makes Booksmart a uniquely entertaining movie. Booksmart diverts from any familiar coming of age formula and it makes for a refreshingly brilliant watch. Diversity and inclusiveness reign supreme as Booksmart covers the stupid and meaningful side by side in a revitalizing and extremely hilarious way. With lavish caricature and ridiculous scenarios, this bad-mouthed movie explores, sex, drugs and … dubstep with unforgiving confidence that is nothing but infectious.

Kelly Potter

Kelly has been a film critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018. Kelly gained a BSc in Film Production and Technology leading to her most notable credit for the production designer for a short film screened as part of the London Film Festival line up.

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