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My one-word, capitalized review of Booksmart is RELATABLE! You won't be surprised to read, I imagine, that I was academically-focused in school, and not so great with the social interactions. The story of these two girls, who feel like they wasted their youth studying and who embark on a Superbad-type graduation's eve night of partying to catch themselves up, may be told from a completely different generation than mine's point of view, but the feelings behind it are pretty universal. I don't even think the relatability is limited to bookworms or teens. Some of the moments I felt best resonated with me happened in college, or as an adult, perhaps even in the last few years. Regret, social anxiety, unfairness, these are themes that stay with us. As a comedy, Booksmart has a little of everything. Amusing characters, a bit of gross-out humor (but only a bit), smart dialog, truthful observations, fun directorial bears courtesy of Olivia Wilde, completely absurd moments, and at the center of it all, a lovely friendship with a lot of heart. I would be totally into catching up with Molly and Amy in college if the right story were to come up. They're my people.
What a change a shift in perspective can make.
Booksmart is made of common ingredients - you've seen a lot of the basic setup here a hundred times before. But Olivia Wilde and the screenwriters have mixed those ingredients up in a way that's surprising, pleasant and clever.
Wilde adores her actors, that's clear to see. No surprise, because both Feldstein and Dever are delightful.
Obviously, it's a tremendous achievement to tackle this genre properly - so often the domain of leering boys - with a female perspective. But it goes beyond that: it's progressive and inclusive in a way that is rare in mainstream cinema. Exceptional in the sense that it doesn't make a big hairy deal out of it. One of the main characters is gay, but in a change, from the norm, her sexuality isn't what the plot revolves around. It's just part of who she is, albeit tinged with teenage awkwardness and inexperience.
It's very amusing - I laughed a lot, and it's deliciously crude and blunt in the way the best comedies of its ilk are. But there's a warm-heartedness that elevates everything - the core friendship rings true, the emotional beats are satisfying, and the way the protagonists' views of their classmates are frequently upended is believable and thoughtful.
Problems, I have a few - the stop-motion tangent, in particular, didn't work for me at all. They're minor blemishes on what is a confident and delightful directorial debut.
yoooo, I just want to give Olivia Wilde MAD PROPS for directing such an engaging and beautiful feature!!! no sense of ego here, just a solid story made with love and done well.
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