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(2019)

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8/10
love the friendship
SnoopyStyle30 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It's the last day of high school. Molly (Beanie Feldstein) is an academic over-achiever and obsessive class president. She is proud of getting into Yale and her gay best friend Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) is going to Africa. Molly is horrified to learn others who she sees as slackers are also headed to exciting opportunities. She fears that they have sacrificed socializing for nothing and vows to have one night of partying.

This is a very good coming-of-age high school comedy. I love the girls' friendship. There are a few minor instances where I want improvements. There is one moment when I realized that Molly is not nice. On the yacht, she tells Jared that he can't buy friends. At that moment, she should invite him to join them. Her character needs an act of kindness. Otherwise, Beanie should learn from her brother and get run over by a car. She had done it herself. If the character isn't that likeable, we should at least laugh at her. Amy is likeable enough for both of them. Molly should be the clown. As it stands, the duo is great but it could be marginally better.

The best scene is the swimming pool. I feared that it would turn out that way and the shock of that moment still hurts. It's a great scene. Both Beanie and Kaitlyn are great and deliver a real friendship on the screen. This has a few solid laughs. It's an amazing directing debut for Olivia Wilde. She has some very good cinematic moves. It's also part of the job to deliver what seems like a happy and fun group. It translates onto the screen. This is fun.
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6/10
Struggles at the (more meaningful) center of the story, but surely has its fun moments otherwise
Horst_In_Translation23 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Booksmart" is an American comedy film from 2019 that runs for 100 minutes approximately. Here in Germany, this premiered back in November 2019, so between half a year and a year now, which makes it still a relatively new movie and they were showing it one more (maybe final) time today at the open air cinema. I missed it back then, but my curiosity rose when I saw it got a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination and I decided to give it a go this time. I don't really regret it. It is alright. By the way, the director is Olivia Wilde and this was her first full feature as the woman in charge behind the camera. She directed other stuff before, short films and, unexpectedly, a RHCP music video, one of my favorite bands. Gotta check that one out. And Wilde is of course a prolific actress herself. Saw her in quite a few things, "House M.D." obviously, which was her breakthrough, but also stuff like "Rush" and, very recently, Clint Eastwood's new film "Richard Jewell". I am just mentioning her a bit more than usual because there were talks about her potentially getting a Director nomination at the Oscars, mostly because she is a female and there is a lot of talk about gender discrimination and so on, but she came short, which is accurate because this film we have here is merely a decent, but not a great directorial achievement. She is still among the rising younger female directors these days, a group probably led by Greta Gerwig, who I like as well, but her Oscar-nominated directing effort was also not too amazing and I am glad she did not get in a second time even and I say this as somebody who quite likes her as an actress. Anyway, I am drifting away now. Back to Wilde's effort we have here. There is a massive amount of four writers credited and all of them are females too. Not a coincidence. This is a very female-centered movie and the quartet managed a BAFTA nomination for their work. Surprises me a bit that Wilde was not part of this writing team. Also, as you can see on the poster here on imdb, the two protagonists are females as well. Beanie Feldstein is the one on the right and she played definitely the showier (and for me less likable) character from the two and this may be the reason why she scored the Golden Globe nomination. I think Dever (the one on the left) would not have been less deserving of a nod. It's alright though. I will be curious to see which directions the duo's careers will be heading. I have a feeling Dever will do better in the long run and Feldstein will perhaps struggle a bit with the challenge to prove that she is not just a dark-haired Rebel Wilson. Time will tell.

Now I was worried early on about this movie when they immediately shoved Hillary and RBG in our faces and not much later Warren as well (how's her 2020 campaign going?) that this could be a feminist movie without fun and good narration and plot twists, but luckily they did all this at the beginning and it gets better soon. One thing I liked is that Dever's character's homosexuality is never an issue at all. Very realistic. People are really fine with it, also the parents, or just do not care at all. No need to turn this into a big dramatic emotional coming-out tale. The only reason we really find out about it is because we know right away who she is crushing on and that it is a girl, even one with a pretty male-sounding first name. This is still what they did right, the attraction part. However, as for the romance, they really messed up everything else afterwards and this is what I am implying with the title of my review. Be it the lesbian girl all of a sudden entering into sex, maybe a relationship even, with somebody completely different was as ridiculous as Feldstein's character kissing the other guy at the parade at the end. It was already bad enough how they told us who she is interested in initially. I mean I can deal with the fact that it was the jock, but how she admits after another character randomly says so is pretty embarrassing. How would she not have told her friend before? They seem to talk about literally everything. I mean the part with the lesbian staying abroad for a year and not a month is already difficult to believe that it is a secret, but who Feldstein's character is crushing on being a secret is just impossible to believe. Or that both of their crushes eventually start making out in the swimming pool. With each other!? That is my only big criticism here though or maybe that it does not feel too realistic that we are supposed to believe these two main characters have never been at parties etc. how they are doing, how they are immediately the center of attention and so on also feels a bit difficult to believe and not too authentic. So every time the movie got a bit more serious (also the argument between the girls towards the end had a little pseudo drama to it), it is not doing well, also the part about the other girl being discriminated against with her nickname, but apparently the writers realized that quickly themselves and kept it light again wwhen she admits yeah it is true. It is doing well though whenever nothing but comedy is involved, be it panda abuse, be it Forte and Kudrow (who are both great as always despite very limited screen time), be it Sudeikis' character, especially in the car when he changes the tapes, this film is very funny on several occasions. There is no way I can name them all when I laughed here. It put a smile on my lips so many times. Okay, the gross moments like the sex scene at the end and the wrong hole and fateful drink were not exactly a success, but I can see why others like it. For example, the girl next to me laughed on completely different occasions than myself, but we both laughed, so you will definitely not find everything funny that I found funny, but you will find enough funny for sure. Like one example could be that this is a comedy that, like so many others, delivers through absurdity and going over the top, simply delivering something really unexpected. This description applies pretty well to the two other parties where the girls end up before finding the one they are actually looking for or of course the extended doll sequence that even allowed them to go for a lengthy nudity sequence. That was a truly unexpected moment of animation that was in fact drug-induced, so maybe not that funny if we are strict. I thought it peaked early already when we see the animated arms and nothing else. All afterwards was alright, but not necessary. Okay here and there it was all a bit unrealistic like at the end when they find out about the criminal from the Wanted! poster or also how their principal is driving the car (okay I forgive them that because, like I said, the tape thingey was so hilariously awkward), but the film is charming enough to make it easy to forgive them for these flaws. I think the pretty massive awards recognition (without Oscar nominations though) is not undeserving, but slightly exaggerated all in all. Still, there is definitely some talent involved and I am especially curious about what Wilde will be coming up with next. A pretty good start for her, even better than how some greats have launched their careers. "Booksmart" deserves to be seen and also certainly not only by females, but guys can check this one out. Also really good use of music here, some catchy songs included that I have not yet come across. Go watch this one. Certainly among the better comedies of 2019. Thumbs up!
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Superficial and wildly emotional, and thus effective at portraying the teen experience
bob the moo16 August 2020
I'm about as far as you can get from being a California high-school girl, so I wasn't really expecting to get much from this film. In watching it I was surprised by how well it got me into its version of this reality, and how well it conveyed the feelings of the age. The plot sees two studious students suddenly realise they missed out by working so hard, and decide to go to a party on the last day of school. As a presentation it is done with comedy, a big soundtrack, large performances, and plenty of energy and mishap. It had the potential to be superficial and chaotic but instead it takes all that surface energy and produces a film that does feel like the teen experience it is touching on.

It does this by having an emotional wildness to it, and a sense of being indestructible but yet delicate. The world shown is perhaps the world of teenagers in the movies as opposed to real life (I have no idea or way of knowing) because it is all slick, smartly written, cool, and easy; but it sells this convincingly and makes it all work within its own logic and rules. It does this with good humour and affection for all its characters and is remarkable in that there isn't really any cruelty in it, or 'villain' as there often is in this genre. The bonds, realisations, and emotions of the characters all come over as genuine and recognisable, even when they are done in exaggerated style.

Speaking of style, Wilde does a terrific job as director. She is consistent in her approach and thus manages to make the superficial elements part of the film - and not just gloss for the sake of it. She has several showreel type moments, but again these fit with the film and the characters rather than coming off as her trying things out in her first film. It is fresh, energetic, enjoyable, and does very well in creating a sense of time, place, and people that the viewer can connect with.
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8/10
We are smart and fun
nogodnomasters18 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are two smart girls who never partied in high school to make sure they get into a great college. They discover on the last day of school that the kids who goofed off are also going to the same colleges. Molly decides that they are going to go to Nick's party. Molly has a crush on Nick while Amy has a crush on Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) who is going to be there.

The first hour of the film is the girl's attempting to figure out where the party is being held. The party was subdued compared to other teen parties in the cinema. The film was humorous with one smile scene after another.

Guide: F-word. Sex? No nudity.
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6/10
Booksmart
jboothmillard23 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the trailer for this film twice at the cinema, and then I heard about the comparisons by critics and cinemagoers, saying it was like a "female Superbad", I was up for giving it a go and hoping for a good laugh, the directorial debut of House actress Olivia Wilde. Basically Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein, Jonah Hill's sister) and Amy Antsler (Kaitlyn Dever) have been best friends since childhood, but are considered more interested in studying and less on having fun by fellow high school students. Amy came out as gay two years ago, and had a crush on Ryan (Victoria Ruesga), Molly urges her to attempt to forge a relationship before they graduate. The day before graduation, Molly overhears fellow students talking about her and Amy in the bathroom. She tells them that they have got into good schools through studying hard, but despite partying and seemingly not caring about studies, the students have also secured places into good colleges. Molly angrily tells Amy that they have missed out on four years of fun working to get good grades, Amy reluctantly agrees to join her in going to an end-of-year party hosted by Nick Howland (Mason Gooding). The pair of them realise however, they have no idea where the party is being held. Molly calls kind-hearted and wealthy classmate Jared (Skyler Gisondo) for help, but he instead brings them to his yacht for his own party. No other guests have turned up, apart from his drug-crazed friend Gigi (Billie Lourd), they stay for a few minutes before leaving. Amy suggests they go home, having fulfilled their plan to party before graduation, but Molly calls "Malala", their code for unconditionally doing what the other wants to do, and Amy consents to continue with the night. The girls call a Lyft taxi and are shocked to be picked up by Principal Jordan Brown (Jason Sudeikis). After accidentally playing the sound of pornography through the car speakers, Brown drops them off at the house of classmate George (Noah Galvin), but it's a murder mystery party. The two encounter Gigi again, who reveals that the food that they ate on the yacht was drugged, and both Amy and Molly soon experience a bad trip and hallucinate that they are dolls. They escape the house and get the location of the party from Pat the Pizza Guy (Mike O'Brien). Amy accidentally leaves her phone in his car, and Molly's phone is nearly dead, lasting just long enough to call for help from someone she can rely on. Soon enough, their teacher and friend Miss Fine (Jessica Williams) arrives, gives them a change of clothes and drives them to Nick's party. When they arrive, Amy goes to talk to Ryan and Molly goes to talk to Nick, who she has a crush on. Amy is embarrassed however when after talking to Ryan, she sees her kissing Nick, she wants to leave, and calls her own "Malala", but Molly refuses to do so, thinking she has a chance with Nick. In rage, Amy reveals that she plans to take a gap year and travel to Botswana, and she resents how Molly always tries to take control of her life. They loudly argue in front of their classmates, until Amy goes to bathroom and has a panic attack. She is found by Hope (Ma's Diana Silvers), whom other students find cruel. They squabble at first, but then Amy kisses Hope, they almost have sex, until Amy vomits on her and ruins the moment. Molly is driven home by Annabelle "Triple A" (Molly Gordon), a popular student with a reputation for promiscuity, and they bond over being stereotyped. The next morning, graduation day, Molly wakes up feeling ashamed of what happened between her and Amy. She sees on her phone that everyone is talking about how cool Amy was for distracting police officers when they came to shut down Nick's party. Molly visits Amy in jail to apologise for her actions, and they reconcile. The two see a wanted poster, and recognise the pizza driver fro the night before, he is a serial killer, they trade their information to get Amy out of jail. They drive to the graduation where Molly improvises a farewell speech and kisses Jared, receiving a round of applause. A few days later, Molly helps Amy prepare for her trip to Botswana, and Hope comes to the house to give Amy her number. Molly drives Amy to the airport and they share a tearful goodbye, but Amy jumps in the car before Molly leaves, saying she has time to hang out before her flight, so they go to get pancakes. Also starring Lisa Kudrow as Charmaine Antsler, Amy's mom, Will Forte as Doug Antsler, Amy's dad, Eduardo Franco as Theo, Austin Crute as Alan, and the voice of Maya Rudolph as the Motivational Voice. Feldstein and Dever are very talented young actresses, making a terrific double act as the straight-A students who want to go all out, it is a nice simple story, good girls gone bad and taking a walk on the wild side, partying before they graduate, it has a great sharp-tongued script and splendid characters, leading and supporting, it does make you laugh at the right moments, and it is visually entertaining as well, including the animated sequence, all in all it is an enjoyable coming-of-age comedy. Good!
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8/10
Completely hilarious
BandSAboutMovies7 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut with this coming of age comedy with a script from Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman. It follows a very simple concept: What if two girls who've been friends for life realized that they did high school all wrong? What if everyone that they looked down on because all they did was party and waste their high-school years also made it into Ivy League schools?

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein (who has shined in Neighbors 2, Ladybird and the TV version of What We Do In the Shadows) were cast as the two leads, living together as roommates for ten weeks so that they could build the relationship necessary to make their relationship feel authentic. If Feldstein feels familiar, her brother is Jonah Hill, which makes sense, as many have pegged this movie as a female empowered Superbad. Trust us - it can stand on its own.

Amy and Molly (Dever and Feldstein) are considered pretentious by their hard-partying high school peers and even their principal (Jason Sudeikis, Wilde's husband who turns in a great performance as always). And even though Molly came out to her parents two years ago - Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte in a deft cameo that he has some hints of pathos - she hasn't dated a girl yet.

The day before they graduate, Molly learns the truth: every single one of the students they've avoided has done just as well - or better - than them when it comes to college placement. They decide to make their last night together before Amy goes to do volunteer work in Africa one to remember. Hijinks, as they say, ensue.

The true beauty of Booksmart is that it combines realistic warmth with over the top bawdy humor. It also has characters that are multilayered and defy easy characterization. Jared may be a vapid rich kid, but he wants to be so much more. Gigi (Billie Lourd, the daughter of Carrier Fisher) may live for drugs, but she can also see into peoples' hearts. Even Annabelle, who has been set up as the villain of the story, ends up being a friend to the girls when they really need it. And Mike O'Brien, the creator of the now-canceled A.P. Bio and a former Saturday Night Live cast member, has an awesome small part as a pizza guy caught up in the machinations of our heroines.

The music is non-stop and punctuates so much of the film and is put together by the legendary Dan the Automator, who produced Dr. Octagon and the Gorillaz. It's perfect for the film.

Booksmart pulls off what I believed impossible: a bawdy, belligerent and yet intelligent and endearing teen comedy somehow made in a year where things get censored by the very young people who should be pushing the envelope.
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10/10
More than a 'female SUPERBAD' -the dynamic duo of Dever & Feldstein make this one of the best films, comedies and films about teens of the year (or any year).
george.schmidt1 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
BOOKSMART (2019) **** Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Victoria Ruesga, Mason Gooding, Skyler Gisondo, Diana Silvers, Molly Gordon, Billie Lourd, Eduardo Franco, Nico Hirago, Austin Crute, Noah Galvin, Michael Patrick O' Brien, (voice of Maya Rudolph) Hilarious last-day-of-high-school comedy with the dynamic duo of Dever & Feldstein (channeling their inner Joan Cusack and Melissa McCarthy, respectively) as besties who realize at the last minute they have not had a fun time as teens and decide to make one final stab at a classmate's epic party on the eve of graduation. Funny, whip-smart and a great ensemble (Lourd's 'bad penny' of a friend is hysterical recalling Natasha Lyonne) help fuel the shrewd screenplay by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel & Katie Silberman that echoes John Hughes, Judd Apatow and Cameron Crowe while actress Olivia Wilde makes a humdinger directorial debut wisely allowing her talent cast to get their ya-yas out and revealing her inner Amy Heckerling, to boot. One of the best films, comedies and films about teens of the year (or any year).
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8/10
Rather likeable
neil-47630 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Molly and Amy are on the eve of graduation from high school. Molly is an aggressive smart-*rse, Amy is rather gentler. Amy came out 2 years ago, but both girls have been so tied up with studying that dating, partying, sexual exploration and the like hasn't had a look in. But, on discovering that their partying contemporaries have also all secured Ivy League university places, the two friends determine to party the night away.

This film has been compared to Superbad. I see the resemblance, but I quite liked this movie whereas, for me, Jonah Hill's character stank Superbad up so badly that I couldn't bear it. It is ironic, then, that Molly is played by an actress going under the name Beanie Feldstein, who turns out to be Jonah Hill's sister.

I really have no idea how accurate a depiction of high school graduation in the USA this is, but as a raunchy teen comedy it wasn't bad. The raunchy bits managed to be funny rather than just sleazy as is so often the case, and the characters were mostly nicely conceived and realised.

I particularly enjoyed Amy's journey. Her coming out, while significant, has turned out to be unremarkable and now she finally seeks to see how things go, with mixed results. Sensitive, funny, touching.

I found this rather likeable.
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5/10
Wasn't Funny
evanston_dad23 July 2019
A raunchy comedy about the coming of age of two young women? Sounds great! A buddy movie directed by and starring females? Just what we need! A movie from the point of view of anyone other than a straight white man? Sign me up!

So why do I give "Booksmart" such a low rating? Because it's not funny. It thinks it's funny, and it tries awfully hard to be so. But it's just not. There are moments here and there that made me chuckle, but for the most part this movie was like watching "Saturday Night Live" when the first really good opening skit is over and you still have an hour of show left -- a series of sketches, some funnier than others, but all of which go on too long and aggressively milk a one-note joke for all it's worth.

And this movie had a great premise. And it had two appealing actresses in the lead, both of which show promise of having comic ability. But it just falls flat on its face one too many times.

I have to believe that the only reason critics have been so kind to this film is that it was directed by Olivia Wilde and gives us a story about girls in a cultural moment when people are clamoring for more movies by women and about female characters. But even movies made by women still have to be good.

Grade: C+
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7/10
Olivia Wilde at the helm
ferguson-623 May 2019
Greetings again from the darkness. Every generation tends to get the high school movie (the movie about high school life) they deserve. Going back to James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) and Sidney Poitier in TO SIR WITH LOVE (1967), what followed were such memorable films as CARRIE (1976), GREASE (1978), FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982), most every John Hughes movie from the 80's, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (1986), SAY ANYTHING (1989), DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993), CLUELESS (1995), 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999), MEAN GIRLS (2004), HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL (2006), JUNO (2007), and SUPERBAD (2007). It's that last one on the list that this directorial debut from Olivia Wilde is likely to draw the most comparisons to.

Kaitlyn Dever ("Justified") and Beanie Feldstein (LADY BIRD, and sister of Jonah Hill) star as Amy and Molly, two best friends and high school seniors who have sacrificed a social life (i.e. partying) for academics in order to position themselves for the best colleges. Amy has decided to take a gap year doing charity work in Botswana, while Molly wears her intelligence and class ranking on her sleeve and sits in judgement of her less disciplined classmates. She is headed to Yale with her ultimate life goal being an appointment to the Supreme Court (she has an RBG poster up in her room).

Imagine their shock when, the day before graduation, Amy and Molly discover that many of their less-disciplined (i.e. hard partying) classmates will also be attending elite schools. The besties immediately scheme to make up for 4 years of nose-to-the-grindstone by attending the biggest party of the year ... and showing others how much fun they can be. Plus, the party affords each the opportunity to pursue their crush: skater-girl Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) for Amy, and athlete Nick (Mason Gooding) for Molly.

Although (full disclosure) I was never a high school girl, the one thing that stands out about the film is how the kids seem like real kids. That's not to say most every aspect isn't slightly exaggerated, because it is. The level of gayness in the Drama club is a bit difficult to take, and the teenage body is objectified in more than one shot; however, director Wilde has a knack for making high school look cinematic. Two sequences are particular standouts for the way they are filmed: the swimming pool scene with Amy underwater, and the house party as the characters weave in and out of rooms in the large house Supporting roles add depth to the comedy thanks to Jason Sudeikis as the school Principal/Lyft driver; Billie Lourd (daughter of Carrie Fisher) as Gigi, who is always popping up and stealing scenes; Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte as Amy's parents; Molly Gordon ("Animal Kingdom") as the misunderstood 'Triple A'; the aforementioned Victoria Ruesga and Mason Gooding; and star-in-the-making Diana Silvers as Hope - the aptly named rebel who clicks with Amy.

Co-written by Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman, the film presents a realistic friendship between two teenage girls, and mines some common and recognizable personalities for comedy gold. Smart and funny female characters are interesting at any age, and "no one knows me" is the anthem of most every high school student since caveman days. The inevitable comparisons to SUPERBAD will likely be favorable to this film, and it will probably be the perfect fit for this generation - even if we hope most students avoid many of the happenings. With Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as producers, you should prepare for the harsh language high school kids are known for, as well as that 'brazen, yet insecure' blend so common to the age. Of course, we can't help but find the timing of release quite interesting, given the recent college admissions scandal. It won't replace AMERICAN GRAFFITI for me, but with Olivia Wilde having been known as an actress, we now recognize her as a legitimate director.
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This "Woke" Nonsense Will Leave You Slack-Jawed
lavatch6 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In the bonus track of the DVD of "Booksmart," the film personnel coined a new word to describe their film--"hillareal"-as a combination of "hilarious" and a narrative grounded in "reality." This review argues that the film was not funny at all, and it had no connection whatsoever to the realities faced by today's high school students.

The characters of "Booksmart" were some of the most obnoxious ever to appear in a Hollywood film. This movie should be screened at a gathering of the "Squad" in Congress. It should be aired on CNN to complement the failing cable network's woke agenda. And it should be required viewing for freshmen orientation at American universities seeking to brainwash students in the propaganda of diversity, inclusivity, and the opportunity for women to have a turn at controlling the reigns of power.

The film opens with the line "greatness takes sacrifice" with background photographs of Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. But, beyond the leftwing ideological agenda, it must also be asserted that "Booksmart" is not funny.

The premise of the film is that the two best friends, Amy and Molly, have lived an abstemious life in their high school years, having devoted themselves full-time to their studies in high school. But they feel gypped when they learn that other high school students have been admitted to Yale, Harvard, and Stanford while partying through their high school years. They vow to make up for lost time by letting down all inhibitions at a pre-graduation night party.

As depicted in the film, the L.A. students are the perfect embodiment of the Varsity Blues students, whose wealthy parents bought their kids' way into the prestigious universities. It is clear that the film is not being addressed to young people, but to their jaded establishment parents.

It is not surprising that film critics have adored this film, writing reviews that read more like propaganda than film criticism. Of course, these writers are fellow travelers with the liberal Hollywood crowd, and they were writing for each other as a "club" more than as objective critics.

While it was refreshing to see a film made primarily by and about women, the female characters in this film appeared miles away from women in the real world. At one point, Molly was comparing her interest in characters from the Harry Potter novels with the favorites of Nick, the secret man of her dreams. This movie is closer to a Harry Potter film than a comedy-drama grounded in the real world in 2019. Molly's valedictorian speech says it all: "Straight White Man, your time is......"
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One of the best films of the year and teen comedies of all time.
jdesando24 May 2019
"They did two things. We're the a--holes who only did one." Molly (Beanie Feldstein)

Two high school besties, Molly and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), in Booksmart have overachieved academically, shorting themselves in the more raucous activities they now, at graduation time, resent they didn't do. As in the most successful coming-of-age comedies, starting with the male-centered Superbad, while throwing in Bridesmaids for a little adult naughtiness, the answer is a wild party the night before the graduation ceremony.

Although the drunken activities are not that creative, the patter is smart screwball, too fast and witty to be digested in one sitting. By far superior to Super Bad because the boys there are not the sharpest, these girls are inventive academics needing only a hallucinogen and an affair to complete their education.

As a side note, Molly learns that although she consumed her time in studying and got into Yale, a few slacking others made it into Stanford, Harvard, and Georgetown (mentioned twice, and my alma mater). Molly seems to realize there is more than just academics to young life, and excellence can come in the most unlikely places.

Rather than being dismissive about extracurricular dissipation, Booksmart accepts all kinds of people and ways of life. This democratic inclusion is a bold difference from the teen comedies that have favored white exclusion, outsized bullies, and boring bright nerds.

Olivia Wilde in her first effort directs with the ease of a veteran, changing the pace as necessary, a film fluidly and subtly framed by the appropriate music and smart dialogue. Although she follows some of the formula that takes our heroines up and down the experiential arc, she cannily keeps the two girls' friendship genuine and lasting. That's real female empowerment.

And that's the meta theme here: True friendship is the high-school lesson learned to be kept a lifetime. Booksmart is a smart, super good comedy that will have you laughing all the time and shaking your head in approval. It is one of the best movies of 2019 and one of the genre's best examples.

Books are smart, but friendship is better.
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Hilarious
Red_Identity24 May 2019
I'm a sucker for these kinds of coming-of-age comedies. They're some of the most (if not the most) casually, easily entertaining films. But not all of them are good, and their greatness usually does vary. In terms of quality, this is no Lady Bird (that film was able to capture a profound sense of honesty and depth that this genre rarely does) or even Eighth Grade, but it's more in the vein of The Edge of Seventeen. I already knew Beanie Feldstein had so much comedic potential and it's great to see it fully realized here. She should be a big star. But to me the real stand-out of the film was Kaitlyn Dever. After first seeing her in Short Term 12 some seven years ago, I knew she was a promising actress. I didn't know she could do comedy, and this film showed that, but she still managed to find something really raw in her dramatic moments, in a way that perhaps Feldstein didn't do. I originally thought the film would be Feldstein's, and I guess she is the primary lead, but Dever is pretty much with here almost every step of the way and contributes just as much to the overall film.

Overall, I thought the first hour was stronger than the last 40 minutes, which I felt tonally to be a little inconsistent. However, one thing that remained great throughout was Olivia Wilde's directing. For a film of this genre, this takes some really creative paths in the way it tells its story, both writing and directing-wise. There are so many stand-out scenes, even if it probably falls in the same traps that many films of this genre do in regards to losing momentum in its final act.
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9/10
The Surprise of the Summer
ThomasDrufke8 May 2019
It's not often I get to see movies early, but when I got the opportunity to see 'Booksmart' a few weeks before its release (being that the trailers were fantastic), I knew I had to jump at the chance. If it wasn't already obvious, Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein have impeccable chemistry, and always fill the screen with just the right amount of energy and heart, in what could be considered one of the best high school films of the last 15 years. Combining realistic drama with laugh-loud gut busting humor, 'Booksmart' (if marketed correctly) could be the surprise film of the summer. It felt like just the right combination of The Spectacular Now meets Superbad. And believe me, both of those tones work wonder for this movie.

9.5/10
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8/10
Gets an A, even if it doesn't give an F.
Pjtaylor-96-13804427 May 2019
'Booksmart (2019)' is a coming-of-age comedy that, essentially, tells us not to judge a book by its cover, that no-one is better than anyone else and that you should try to enjoy life while you can. Like so many in the genre, it also focuses on a strong central friendship. The difference is that, here, it's a sisterhood - something sadly not seen too often in cinema, let alone comedy. That sisterhood is palpably rendered by its two leads, who are both incredibly likeable - and nuanced - in their roles. When it comes down to it, the film feels like the sort of 'R-rated' teen-comedy they don't really make any more pushed firmly into modern day; it's progressive in pretty much every aspect. It's also consistently entertaining. There's never a dull moment, as it somehow crams everything it wants to achieve into its slim frame. Indeed, the jokes come fast and they come funny. It's laugh-out-loud, at times, and should keep you chuckling throughout. Even when you're not, you'll probably be smiling. That's because it's just charming. The characters and world feel rounded and realistic but also ever-so-slightly heightened and absurdist. Practically everyone on-screen seems like a 'real' person - or, at least, one fully grounded within the feature. It's relatable, honest and, even, heartfelt. It's trying to say several things and it ends up saying most of them rather well. It's always enjoyable, too. It's probably one of the best examples of its genre. 8/10
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6/10
A Not-So-Smart Party Movie
Cineanalyst11 October 2019
Smart girl learns important lesson that she's not better than her middle-to-upper class peers; she's better than the rest of us.

Regardless of the rave reviews from critics, I didn't expect much from a movie that was celebrated as a progressive gender-reversal of "Superbad" (2007) for a new generation. And, it's largely just that. I didn't care much for "Superbad," however, nor much of the stuff Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg do. Sure, it was funny in parts, but ultimately vacuous. Ditto the crude humor mixed with sweetness formula also employed for "Booksmart." It's another one-night teen party movie starring twenty-somethings--you know, because, apparently, it's a good idea to have some sex appeal in your movie about high-school seniors. The leads let loose for a change, get into some high jinks, quarrel briefly, embrace the bittersweetness of their looking forward to the next stage of their lives and, of course, learn some lessons along the way, such as the one in the paragraph above.

I think it's the coming-of-age party formula that's the problem, not the generation and certainly not the reflecting back the values and experiences of the spectator, as much as some viewers seem to care about that sort of thing. I don't know whom you have to be born to get into a high school where half the student body of underdeveloped stereotypes is accepted to the Ivy League or is otherwise going to attend a prestigious university or go work for Google. Molly's home situation is conspicuously underdeveloped, but for those who aren't, they come from wealthy families. In one scene, Molly naively exclaims that, "You can't buy people's affection." Jared, correctly, replies, "No, I'm pretty sure you can, because I've seen it a lot. My parents did it. Their parents did it." But, it's not as though "Dazed and Confused" (1993) is any better because of its seemingly-more-realistic aimlessness and lower-class characters. And, just so it's clear that I'm offending every generation growing up on teen films: John Hughes is overrated, too.

At least, "Booksmart" is well made--a promising start for director Olivia Wilde. There's a bit of amusing blending of fantasy sequences, which are largely drug induced. The score effectively moves things along. I especially liked the underwater pool photography and its musical accompaniment. The acting is good, too, including some comedy veterans for the adult parts. Kaitlyn Dever is especially impactful in her dramatic character arc even though it's a clichéd awkward sexual adventure. If you're wondering whether the main characters all find a romantic coupling by the end, or whether friendships are mended, then you've clearly not seen many of these movies. "Booksmart" is more of the same, and there's nothing particularly smart about that.
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7/10
A product of its times, with timeless themes
gbill-7487713 December 2019
Two smart girls cut loose on the final day of high school, seeking out a popular kid's party and going through various misadventures along the way. At times it felt like it was trying awfully hard with all of its wokeness, which I suppose makes it a product of its time, but at its center are some timeless themes, such as dealing with the cliques in high school, having close friends that help you survive it, and the inevitable transition after graduation. Not all the humor lands but it's amusing enough, and the two leads, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, are wonderful.
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A Spectacular Start To Olivia Wilde's Directorial Endeavours
CinemaClown5 June 2019
As fun, lively & gleeful as any unsupervised house party, Olivia Wilde's directorial debut is an enjoyable, exuberant & energetic coming-of-age comedy that's crafted with passion, brims with heart, radiates nothing but joy, and effortlessly delivers a lighthearted ride that's endlessly amusing from beginning to end.

Capturing the last high of high-school life with a heartfelt dose of genuine warmth & deft touch of surprising intimacy, Booksmart is smart, funny, colourful in all the right ways and is bolstered by spot-on chemistry between its leading ladies, in addition to Wilde's excellent direction, thus commencing her filmmaking journey on a promising note.
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7/10
A Solid Teen Comedy
atlasmb17 January 2020
Booksmart 7 stars 2019 1/17/2020

I decided to watch this film after hearing some very positive buzz. Over the years, I have been a fan of comedies that provide a witty and insightful view into the lives of teens. Films like "Ferris Bueller", "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", "The Breakfast Club". Thanks, John Hughes.

"Booksmart" is about two high school senior girls who decide to break out of their staid and predictable shells on the day before graduation.

Molly is a walking cliché. Her bedroom walls are a shrine to her progressive heroes, like Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She has her future mapped out: Yale, a brilliant career in law, a seat on the Supreme Court. She listens to affirmation tapes that reinforce her superior self-view and encourage absolute destruction of any opposition. When she goes to the unisex bathroom in school, she corrects the grammar of the graffiti written there. She is class president, valedictorian, and teacher's pet.

Amy is basically Molly's minion, though Molly pretends they are equals. Amy is gay and out there, but unassertive, though she buys into Molly's plans for the future. Or does she?

Over the course of a night, the girls go on a quest, seeking to redefine their existence. Many films have used that same premise. One may see "Booksmart" as derivative, but it forges its own path.

Where "Clueless" had a heroine who voiced Valleyspeak and "Legally Blonde" had Elle, who spouted the somewhat vacuous assertions of the Cosmo-inspired woman, Molly and Amy are primed with the woke, self-referential jargon of the progressive left.

The two characters are quite likable in their nerdy quirkiness. We can relate to their naivete in matters outside their narrow life experience. During the night, they run into a variety of wacky characters and learn some things about humility and acceptance (much like "The Breakfast Club").

The night is triggered by a realization that their entire high school experience was dedicated to the accomplishment of goal-driven objectives while others were enjoying a broader experience and still were accepted into solid college programs. When the industrious ants discovered that the lazy grasshoppers were just as well off, they decided to "change our stories forever."

The storyline is so densely filled with cultural references that a second viewing is worthwhile. There are some plot holes, but they are minor. And the plot is not totally predictable, keeping it interesting.

The acting is solid and features some older comedy stalwarts, like Jason Sudeikis (husband of Olivia Wilde who is making her feature film directorial debut) and Lisa Kudrow. The cast of younger actors includes a few who promise to become stars.

If you like the young adult comedy genre, this film is worth a look.
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7/10
One-Line Review: Booksmart (7 Stars)
nairtejas4 October 2019
Of course there's a lot going on here in Olivia Wilde's debut directorial Booksmart that just took me by surprise as I got mauled to hypnotic pleasure with the charming and raunchy soundtrack that this sweet little story about friendship and "having fun" is picturized on and I can't deny how much fun this would be if you were to catch it with your best buddy. TN.
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Odyssey, sort of
harry_tk_yung23 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This Olivia Wilde (incidentally the most gorgeous face on screen today) directing debut could be described as having an "Odyssey" structure, albeit within the time frame of just one night, right before high school graduation. Molly (Beanie Feldstein), an A+ student who prides herself for being able to move forward to Yale, is all but devastated to find out that classmates she despises are going to Harvard, Stanford etc etc, some on athletic abilities and other simply by proving themselves academically. That shatters, to her, the entire foundation of universe, that studying and partying are mutually exclusive. She vows to make up for all her losses, together with Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), her similarly-minded and only friend. They are going to crash a wild graduation party which they have hitherto scorned. But they don't even know the address and, in the process of trying to find the place, come across as series of fascinating experiences.

Times may change. Fashion may chance. Even values may change. But high school is high school is high school. No matter how long ago it was, there are always things we remember and empathize with. There is nothing really new in "Booksmart", but Wilde has made it look so refreshing. The basic emotions are all there. Acting is first-class. The supporting characters (and there are a lot of them) are just that little bit more than stereotype. The flow is briskly paced, dappled with surreal scenes here and there. Choice of background music is brilliant. In that department, the master-stroke is (n the final scene) using "Unchained melody", the history of which a majority of viewers today would not recognize beyond Demi Moore's haunting (not in the literal sense) "Ghost" (1990).
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10/10
Updated girl version of Superbad
UniqueParticle29 May 2019
One of the funniest comedies. I laughed most of the way through. Olivia Wilde did an excellent job of directing a new generation high school gem, she's a wonderful actress too, it's cool she's trying something different, and I hope more flourishes from her work!

Booksmart is very crude definitely not for some crowds, to whom don't mind it it's a lovely flick about genuine comradery of 2 best friends that just wanna party before they have to grow up. I had so much fun - highly recommend!
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5/10
ive come to the realisation
ops-5253526 May 2019
That im too old for these neomodern highschool comedydramas. in this case its wasnt overuse of social media etc, no , its the way the humour funk'æs today. when i grew up it was a good bunch of slapstick humour, and especially i loved comedies where the buildup to funny act could be smelled 3 seconds before it appeared on the screen, me ending up in a bundle at the floor between the seats of the cinema theater near dead by asphycsiation from pure and divine laughter. where have they all gone?

yes its the art of verbal epoglytal humour that dominates this comedy, and it comes in such cascades, you might think the hoover dam has cracked open, or they went empty of tobacco and did the weed bare with ice at the end. its just to much for me,english isnt my motherlanguage, so when they drive the alphabetical carousell at the pace they do in this flick, i get grumpy and think they are nerds. ive got a booksmart friend by the way, not so schoolsmart but able to read all 3 books in the tolkien series, the lord of the ring in 12 hours, and that was the english version!!!!! why do i mention him...well he loves these kind of films, and the more he can phrase them the better. that is nerdy, but hes still my best friend.

i know im old and grumpy, but smiled a couple of times, and found beanie feldstein super cute it was not so funny for me, it might be fun for you i just wanda how many hours that day they tried to manage all this had?!
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10/10
One of the best comedies of the year.
cruise015 September 2019
Booksmart (5 out of 5 stars).

Booksmart is a great coming of age comedy film that delivers with Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein performance. This might as well be the teenage girl version of Superbad. The plot focusing on these two girls who never broke a rule in high school. And finally graduating. When they realize, a lot of cool kids who got into trouble, partied hard, and who which they thought wouldn't succeed. Are making it into big colleges which they tried so hard to do with focusing in school. They decide to find one of the cool kids parties on the final day of school.

It is a great coming of age story. Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) is a lesbian. Her family is easily accepting who she is. But she is afraid to express her feelings towards her crush. Molly (Beanie Feldstein) the school's president and trying to express how she feels towards this one popular kid.

The film is straight out hilarious. Olivia Wilde's direction is fast, funny, and it kept the energy in tone so high with humor. It never slows down for a boring dramatic moment. The humor can be stupid, and it stayed focusing on the characters coming of age story. It can be relatable to teenagers. The characters are all fun. Jason Sudeikis playing the principle was hilarious and the girls run into him as he is their lyft driver. Jared (Skyler Gisondo) is a kid who is trying to seek attention but everyone assumes different of him. He is hilarious and great at what he does with his roles.

Overall, Booksmart is a great film. One of the best comedies of the year. The performances are great. The script, direction, and story is touching and fun.
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8/10
One of 2019's best comedies
eddie_baggins12 September 2019
Tackling the high school comedy in a way that's usually reserved for the boys of the world like Superbad, actress Olivia Wilde has excitedly and lovingly crafted her ode to growing up and school based shenanigans with the year's most likable and fresh comedy Booksmart.

Showcasing that the girls can in fact be just as crazy, crass and enjoyable as the boys, Booksmart is like a breath of fresh air for the female-centric comedy, one that while struggling unfairly to make a massive splash at the box office this year (meaning it was sadly hard to track down in the cinema here in Australia) will likely be a cult favourite for years yet to come thanks to Wilde's energetic direction and the chemistry of its two leads Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein.

Naturally charismatic and gifted performers, Dever's straight edged Amy and Feldstein's academic driven Molly make for one of the year's best pair-ups and bring a verve and enthusiasm to Booksmart that is undeniably impressive and as the two pent-up work focussed best friends finally let loose on the night before their high school graduation, Booksmart takes us on an over the top but also relatable trip to the final days of care free living as adult lives begin to become the aim of the game.

Similar to such films as the aforementioned Superbad and classic last day of school based romp Dazed and Confused, Booksmart sets its story up over literally the last days in our protagonists high school lives but thanks to the work of Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman perfectly in-tune script that mixes belly laughs with genuinely touching moments of humanity and heart, each one of the characters that come in and play a part of Amy and Molly's wild night feel lived in and full of life and spark.

There's no question that this is the Dever and Feldstein show but Booksmart's winning ensemble that includes bit parts from recognisable faces such as Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis and great career building turns from the likes of Skyler Gisondo, Diana Silvers and Billie Lourd ensures that Wilde's film is filled to the brim with talent and enthusiasm that can only come from a film that that quite clearly provided the environment for creativity and spark to be formed around the basis for what could've been "just another" teen based comedy touching on themes that have been explored ad nauseam since the dawn of cinema.

Thankfully nothing in Booksmart feels copied or stale and while it's over the top central premise and happenings may not always ring true, Wilde and her team have managed the impossible in today's climate and managed to create something that feels, new and unexplored and in the modern age of increased female-centric features, Booksmart stands out from the crowd as a natural and well deservingly praised outing that just so happens to be side splittingly funny on more than a few occasions.

Final Say -

Joyously bought to life by Wilde and her lead duo of Dever and Feldstein, Booksmart is a wickedly fun night out on the town and one of the best recent examples of a female led comedy that puts many of its more phony counterparts to shame.

4 plush Panda's out of 5
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