Director: Olivia Wilde
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jason Sudeikis
My Rating: 9/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 98% Certified Fresh
PLOT: Two over-achieving high-school seniors (Dever, Feldstein) decide to experience, at long last, the party life on the night before graduation.
“Booksmart” goes on the list of the best comedies of the new millennium, along with “Bridesmaids”, “Superbad”, and a few others. It is simply told, hilariously funny, and genuinely touching when it comes to the two lead characters and their friendship, which is put to the test when they decide to venture WAY out of their comfort zone for one last night of partying before senior high graduation.
If the trailers make “Booksmart” look a little like a female version of “Superbad”, well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because hopefully that will drive people to the theatre, people who wouldn’t normally care about a girl-centric comedy that doesn’t involve losing-our-virginity pacts or having carnal relations with flutes and baked goods.
In fact, the trajectory of the story most closely resembles certain comedies from the early ‘80s, the ones where everything (or ALMOST everything) happens in one crazy night, with the main characters bouncing from one bizarre scene to another, all in pursuit of that one legendary party. “Booksmart” feels like the R-rated girl-power comedy that John Hughes never got the chance to make.
I don’t want to tick off the different situations in which the heroines find themselves; that would be giving too much away. But I will mention one scene that is worth the price of admission. The two girls find themselves at a murder-mystery-themed party, and begin to have a drug-fueled hallucination (long story). The nature of the hallucination, and the way it manages to induce genuine laughs, while simultaneously making a statement about smashing traditional notions of female beauty, is breathtaking.
The movie does manage to capture real pathos, as well, the kind of teenage heartbreak that is unique in the human experience. Unfortunately, I felt that the scenes in which this occurs really slow down the momentum of the movie. However, I can’t imagine the movie being complete without it. It felt absolutely necessary, no matter how much it may have dragged a bit.
I’m being intentionally vague with a lot of my review here. I’ve read other reviews that have given WAY too much away, and I’m trying to avoid that here. I simply wish to convey that this is the funniest movie I’ve seen so far this year (and I LOVED “Long Shot”), and it would be a shame to miss seeing it with a large crowd in a big movie theater. Don’t miss this one.