As time progresses, teenagers are being depicted more realistically on the big screen, which is fantastic as films like these are relatable for teenagers, and this year sees Booksmart as one of them. Booksmart has been getting significant praise recently, mainly because of teen inclusivity, but it also marks Olivia Wilde’s debut as a director.
The film begins the night before high school graduation where two best friends realise they should have worked less and played more. The best friends are determined to be like their fellow classmates so they try to have as much fun in one night.
Both Amy (played by Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) capture what best friends are like as young adult as they do things together through thick and thin. From successfully going to good colleges they prefer and partying, to making up for what they missed over the years during high school, the pair are daring. Whether it is studying or partying, they are ready to do it, as long as they are together. Booksmart shows what the “outcasts” are like in high school as their studies are the main focus of their high school. For them, there is no room for absolute fun or breaking the rules, however, it shows that you can dabble in both worlds and the importance of caring about other things in life, like having fun! Plus not to mention that the main focus of the film was between the two best friends who find themselves transitioning into adults with no males interfering, which was quite refreshing for a teen-oriented film. And naturally, this film was so fun to watch because it is as if you are part of this one night action between the two friends with plenty of comedy that will have you laughing.
As mentioned, Booksmart has two female leads as best friends and it is directed by a female, but this film doesn’t shove female empowerment in your face, and instead makes the viewer feel empowered to do whatever you want to do. It also explores sexuality, which is an important topic in a film that is focusing on the transition to the next chapter in life, and it was great to see as this something that is gradually being included more in television and films, especially teen films.
However, what came across as unpleasant was a scene between Molly and Amy in the car speaking Mandarin. The pronunciation was extremely off and hard to get through, and Beanie mentioned in an interview that this was a tough scene as she “doesn’t learn languages well.” Was it really necessary and why Mandarin? While in the film it mentions they learn Spanish, it seems this was just to show their intelligence and perhaps to add a little humour. In addition to this, there were some unnecessary and random scenes with a few falling flat, which can be considered common in a comedy, they still didn’t really serve a purpose to the plot and weren’t enjoyable to watch either. For example, the boat scene which was their first stop on their fun night of adventure, but the scene felt much longer than it actually was.
As for the big climatic moment, in every friendship that is shown on-screen, there’s always some drama waiting to happen. In the case of Booksmart, their argument is the big climax and it’s when it is revealed that they’ve been lying for almost a year. While the argument in itself was totally fine because it was performed well by the actresses, unfortunately the way it was resolved towards the end of the film seemed so lazy. It was too quick and only resolved because graduation was about to happen. Then, at the end of the film, they are about to part ways, but Amy comes back and the end! While it did make for a funny ending, it wasn’t entirely satisfying.
This film didn’t have a specific outstanding scene, although if there was one scene that was better than the others, it would have to be the doll scene. During the night before their graduation, they turn into dolls. Dolls! Minutes later, they turn back to human form and exit the house walking as if they were still dolls. It was a random scene for sure, and it didn’t appear to be a dream sequence or serve a purpose.
As unique as it seems to be, to begin with, the concept isn’t entirely new with friends having some fun before graduation. Think Superbad mixed with Ladybird.
As the years go by, teenagers are getting a voice and place in the entertainment industry. They are shown to be more expressive and carefree, and the film Booksmart is living proof that we are living in a time of change and progression. It is definitely a film that is worth watching if you are looking for a step above a regular teen flick!
What did you think about Booksmart? Is this another typical teen flick or is it progressive? Let us know!