Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are best friends. As their high school academic tenure comes to an end, they realize that their discipline has braought them the same successes as the partiers. Determined to “live it up” on the night before graduation, Molly and Amy set out to find Nick’s graduation party – but will instead find that life always has a twist in store.
“Booksmart” is a coming-of-age comedy for the current generation of teens. Like “American Graffiti” for the 60s, “Rock N Roll High School” for the 70s, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “The Breakfast Club” for the 80s, “American Pie” for the 90s and ”Mean Girls” for the 2000s, each generation longs to capture their unique coming of age experience.
However, every generation essentially seeks the same thing – love, understanding and acceptance.
“Booksmart” is no different. Molly has her life planned out, while Amy plans on spending the summer in Batswana to help African women make tampons.
Amy is gay while Molly is straight. Their sexual discussions touch on gender performance vs. sexual orientation, masturbation and love – modern subjects discussed with modern characters. They may be booksmart but are not lifesmart.
The initial story set up is a bit choppy as we get to know these young ladies, but as the story unfolds it finds its rhythm and a stronger voice to wrap up with both resolution and heart.
The humor will connect with teens and 20-somethings as drug use, sexual identity, gender roles, powers and expectations are all used to create funny pitfalls for these charming teens.
Director Olivia Wilde keeps this film moving using Molly’s determination to grease the cogs in the search for their lost youth.
Dever’s Amy is Molly’s sidekick, a high schooler both driven and stymied by her fears. Yet, when Amy discovers her voice, it creates some of the most satisfying moments in the film. Feldstein’s Molly is smart, cute and hilarious. Convinced she is accepting, she is actually falling prey to peer pressure. As the story unfolds, she finds that rumors should never define an individual and that people are the sum of many parts, not just one experience.
“Booksmart” is a savvy coming-of-age film for a perceptive generation as two high school seniors discover the power of friendship and affirmation.