To quote emperor Palpatine, “A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.” Upon seeing a red rating screen before the trailer for Booksmart, it seems to be yet another crass comedy that can’t draw the fine line between rules and fun. Turns out director Olivia Wilde’s motion picture actually has some profound philosophies to say when it’s time to party these coming summer months.
The screenwriter wisely took time to build up the homosexuality of the co-lead, Amy, so that by the end, her story makes the LGBTQ community feel respected. Yes, even I, a straight man, felt heartbroken when Amy did; mostly because the actress playing her, Kaitlyn Dever, knows how to play the part seriously when admitting how she profanes a plush panda’s snout, then snaps a vicious attitude toward those who take advantage of her habit of saying yes to everything.
Her perfectionist best friend, Molly, though, is the type of lead character who gives the entire project more layers of depth than similar comedies. While not correcting grammar on bathroom walls, Molly‘s assertive (emphasis on the first three letters of that adjective) female dog personality barks everyone else down. Beanie Feldstein plays the part of Molly like the only sane woman within a murder mystery party, but not even she, nor the rest of the cast, acts truly heterosexual!
Casting directors out there, keep a keen eye out on Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever! These two build expert chemistry off each other, almost like the two improvised half the content… maybe Beanie and Kaitlyn could score Best Actress Golden Globe nominations? Fingers crossed!
Although the unorthodox immorality of the screenplay encourages youths to dishonor the police and ignore their parents. Don’t be surprised if someone shortly after watching this movie is photographed to the front and to the side, a number below in hand. Right from seeing how Molly vandalized her own parking spot at school, the complete freedom of breaking rules means even the rules of logic are broken. There’s an instant when the two lead girls speak fluent Chinese so the principal cannot understand them, and nothing before or after the scene explains why they would know such a language. Better scenes probably wound up on the cutting room floor to close up some plot holes, but instead, the bigger issues are peppered down by the unpredictably spicy visuals.
The cinematography doesn’t quite match what the hot imagery calls for, as it ranges from Steadicam to going all vertigo on Molly’s distraught face. With the things done wrong, several jokes go on too long, including Amy’s parents listing the cute names for her graduation food, a creepy doll nightmare, or a fantasized dance with Molly’s crush. That dance is just another one of those invigorous daydreams implemented. While hit or miss, when a visual does hit, it is oh, so fresh! Right down to the makeup design of the characters, it appropriately gives crucial information about who they are without calling any attention to itself.
Because everything looks genuine enough, the supporting cast are believable as videos on an Instagram story, shouting louder than a saturated karaoke projector backlight. At school, the students seem well-behaved, then after the scholarly caps set loose, shirts rip apart to reveal their true selves! Every character leaves an impact, from a full-of-themselves drama duo to a trashy teenager in a teacher’s body. Over eight hours, the entire collection of whomever impacted Molly and Amy throughout their four years of high school jumps in line of their misadventures.
Molly ain’t entirely happy though, as a big problem keeps coming in: Too many of these party-hardy kids got into her level of schools: Yale, Harvard, etc. That’s why Molly needs to party on their last night of teenagerhood, to prove she’s more than just their class president. Not just that, she’ll ensure Amy will enjoy it too, even if it means introducing her to porn for “educational” purposes.
This inner concern Molly has for her own ego presents something much deeper than what most coming-of-age teen comedies dwell on, it displays something applicable to anyone of any age: why “YOLO” vitalizes humanity now more than ever before. It means we should go love those privileged breaks life offers. It means we need to have some fun. It means we need to follow the rules. It means we have to know when the line between fun and rules must be drawn or erased. Booksmart has the fun part down cold, so take good note on the journey of Molly and Amy.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Booksmart, 2019. Annapurna Pictures. Web. <http://annapurna.pictures/films/booksmart>.
Duhamel, Francois. “Things get crazy in "Booksmart" when Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) wear matching jumpsuits..” Digital image. AZ Central. Gannett, 15 May 2019. Web. <https://www.azcentral.com/picture-gallery/entertainment/movies/2019/05/16/beanie-feldstein-kaitlyn-dever-booksmart-movie-stills/1193128001/>.