Olivia Wilde taking on the role of a director is the perfect step for her career. She has always been a talented actress, but she hasn’t been a lot of good movies if I had to be completely honest. For example, she was in my least favorite movie of last year, Life Itself (truth). Hearing great word of mouth about her feature debut Booksmart from SXSW this past spring made me convinced this was going to be a teen movie that I’m probably will end up enjoying.
What’s the Story: Best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) realize that they haven’t done anything exciting during high school when all they’ve done is stay on top of their studies and not attending any parties. So the night before graduation day, they plan a night to be themselves and let loose of their comfort zone.
Though I typically anticipate any blockbuster that looks great, Booksmart has been on my radar since the first trailer dropped. Not only that, but the coming-of-age movies that have been released these past couple years have been great, in my opinion. But with the hype that’s been surrounding the new summer comedy, would all this praise make me a bit worried? Not a chance. Booksmart is great, and I have a feeling it’s gonna be recognized as a classic.
If anything’s going to be talked about first, its attention has to go to the performances from Dever and Feldstein, respectively, because the two of them are a perfect pairing in here. The chemistry that they share as Amy and Molly never falls stray into being unrealistic. You completely bought them as friends, and I can really believe that are in real life. Feldstein has been one to look out for since Lady Bird and the same for Dever when I watched Short Term 12 for the first time last year.
The direction that Wilde offers is surprisingly able to be fast-paced without feeling boring whatsoever. At no point did I ever feel that this was a first-time director filming all of this. So well shot and full of energy. There was just something about the way she directs a scene where it feels just casual and pretty chill with the help of its fantastic screenplay from Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel (The Spy Who Dumped Me), and Katie Silberman (Isn’t It Romantic).
From my interpretation, even when it’s all about being the best in school, we shouldn’t be afraid to come out of our to let loose and have some fun once in a while. Most might feel this way if they were in either the main character’s shoes. And once everybody graduates, you gain more knowledge about them that you didn’t know and understand what they want for the future. Sometimes being a certain stereotype isn’t all that it seems.
All of the film’s humorous moments had me laughing throughout. Even when a joke wasn’t lean over to the side funny, I still had a smile on my face just from how much I’m having fun with Booksmart.
The rest of the supporting cast truly gets to shine, and what I love about Wilde’s direction where everybody can breathe and feel easy in their scenes. Wilde’s real-life partner Jason Sudeikis as Principal Brown, Skyler Gisondo as Jared, the one that tries too hard to be liked by everybody, and Jessica Williams as Ms. Fine, Amy and Molly’s favorite teacher who also likes them back. But out of everybody, Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, was a true standout. I was hoping after Scream Queens that she would bring her amazing talents to anything and she has perfect has Gigi. Every scene she’s in makes for something memorable.
Everybody has been comparing Booksmart to another comedy that’s pretty similar: Superbad. And that’s a major compliment on all cylinders. Superbad is my favorite comedy of all-time, and it’s all true when this feels like the female equivalent that’s rightfully earned. Both have a premise that’s pretty alike, and that’s not a problem. This feels like Superbad for a new generation where the other imitators failed to do. I was just thinking Amy and Molly are practically Evan and Seth. Also, it makes sense since Feldstein is Jonah Hill’s younger sister.
Booksmart is the type of movie that I needed to see after feeling down for personal reasons, and this was the perfect thing to cheer me up. I had a smile on my face throughout the entire movie just loving every minute out of it. Wilde’s directorial debut is one to remember when it’s a great, modern coming-of-age comedy that’s hilarious, smart, and gives us two outstanding performances from Dever and Feldstein. Hands down, this is one of the best movies 2019 has to offer. Here’s hoping Wilde’s next film is even better.