Monday, June 17, 2019

Booksmart - Movie Review

The Movie: Booksmart

The Director: Olivia Wilde

The Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Mason Gooding, Skyler Gisondo, Diana Silvers, Molly Gordon, Billie Lourd, Eduardo Franco, Nico Hiraga, Austin Crute

The Story: On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.

The Review:
This movie is so much fun, you just have to go see it! Kaitlyn Dever are Beanie Feldstein absolutely perfect as nerdy best friends Amy and Molly who are preparing to graduate high school and I hope they had as much fun making this movie as it looks like they did because the whole thing is just a blast. Olivia Wilde has absolutely nailed the high school coming of age comedy by taking the classic formulas and adding modern twists around every corner with a decidedly female perspective.

Along with the two leads, there is a also a really fun supporting cast on board including standout performances from Skyler Gisondo and Billie Lourd as best unlikely best friends Gigi and Jared who are each so hilariously over the top, they nearly steal the show. You may know Billie Lourd only as Carrie Fisher's daughter who has had a small role in the last couple Star Wars films but this performance should go a long ways to elevate that status. If you've watched Scream Queens, you might have a better idea of what she's capable of as Gigi.

While the all women writing team fills this movie with so much craziness and hilarity, the heart of the story comes from the quirky friendship between the two leads and how much they depend on each other as human beings. Of course, they have their ups and downs but at the end of the day, its all about the love and shared experience between two young women who thought they had it all figured out but are now realizing they may have been very wrong about a lot of what their lives are built on.

Olivia Wilde has been in a ton of movies over the years but this is the first time in the director's chair and, after watching her work, I want to see her direct gigantic piles of movies. Her strength is in how she gives the actors space to work without filling her film with unnecessary camera tricks or trying to get too fancy. She's like, here's the scenario, here's the cast, aaaand go! That being said, there is a drug induced stop motion animation sequence involving he two leads that works amazingly well as a bit of an interlude but still manages to push the story forward.

Speaking of pushing forward, you may notice pretty quickly that this is one of the most diverse casts of characters maybe ever assembled in a high school themed movie. There are zero of the classic stereotypes like jocks, rich blonde babes, nerds with glasses and pocket protectors, or any of that tired old mess. In this movie, there are kids of color, kids with different gender preferences, and kids with different sexual orientations and the beauty of it all is that they all interact with each other like none of it is a thing or even matters in any way.

They are all just people living together with all of their respective differences on full display and are in no way made fun of or shamed for being who they are.or for acting any certain way. This is an absolutely beautiful thing to have in a movie, especially one about teenagers and really shows how old ways of thinking are losing steam and fading away. Characters like Amy who has been out as gay for a couple years within the story could have been played as shocking or edgy, but the writers made sure she is just as normal as everyone else with normal emotional problems and normal issues with growing up, just like everyone else.

Of course, any high school movie needs to have to have a high school soundtrack that ties it to the time period and also provides a foundation and a context for the characters to live in To help keep a sense of current time and authenticity Dan the Automater was brought in to compose the soundtrack and, I have to say it is quite honestly one of the nicest collections of hip hop, electronic, and old school tracks you will find with appearances from DJ Shadow, M.I.A., Perfume Genius, Leikeli47, Parliament, and Lizzo just to name a few.

The Verdict:
Booksmart is the next classic high school movie. It's genuinely funny and emotionally authentic all while providing one of the wildest rides through pre graduation night you will ever see.

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