MOVIE REVIEW: Booksmart (2019)

Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Devers) have been best friends their whole lives. Lives they have dedicated to intensive study in the pursuit of being accepted into their dream Ivy League colleges, eschewing parties, frivolity and just general teenage behaviour. On the eve of graduation they discover that their sacrifice has made very little difference and that many of their “lazy” classmates have been just as successful has they have. Now Molly is hellbent on the idea that they should have one massive night out before they set off on their futures. The only problem is, they don’t have the address of the big party pre-graduation party and Amy doesn’t really want to go.

Now the two will set off for an adventure they’re not really equipped for involving drugs, murder mystery parties, romantic liaisons and learning that everything they thought they knew was probably bollocks.

The ‘nerds go on a wild party adventure’ trope, isn’t a new one and it has been done many times before. What makes Booksmart just about fresh is that this time the nerds are girls and one of them is a lesbian. Being a fairly nerdy teenage girl and more of an extrovert one than an introvert one, I immediately related to Molly. That kinship sucked me in and then what kept me hooked was the relationship between the two. The way they hyped each other up going out and getting dressed up is literally what every woman needs from their friends.

I liked that fact that the peers that the two thought they were so superior to were all actually pretty human and quite nice people. And that the lesson to some extent was that Molly and Amy chose to disconnect from their classmates rather than being ostracised. I also laughed my head off on several occasions. The scene where Molly and Amy accidentally take drugs and think they have turned into dolls is hilarious, as is their foray into lesbian porn.

I felt like there was proper character growth through the film and that Molly and Amy learned a lot about themselves as well as each other and their relationship.

Feldstein and Devers are both great and seeing Devers in such a different roll from Unbelievable shows her range. I also enjoyed Billie Lourd playing the almost superhuman Gigi and the choice to cast less classically attractive actors in many of the roles.

On the downside the teacher hooking up with a student trope is never going to be okay. I don’t care how old the characters are or what their genders are, it’s not clever, it’s not funny and I do not want to see it. It’s a bit like that horrible joke at the end of Kingsman that nearly killed the magic of the film. That said, if you can get past that and teen movies are your thing, this is one of the best ones I have seen in years.

3.5/5

12 Comments

  1. The title is funny: getting straight A’s. giving zero f’s. 🤣

    1. It all just made me laugh because I was a lot like these girls as teenagers.

  2. I think I’m one of the very few who absolutely hated this movie. So much talk about originality but I felt it was nothing but one trope after another. It spent too much time imitating other movies instead of plowing its own ground.

    1. I think the reviews are very mixed actually but it really made me laugh.

  3. I have started watching this on my tablet, but only 20 minutes into it. Not sure, so have not read your whole review yet. I may not finish it. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Let me know if you do!

  4. You liked this more than I did.

    Maybe I am getting old but it seems whenever a US teen movie is said to be “witty” and “smart”, they mean obnoxious, annoying and unrelatable. It started with the abysmal “Juno” and carries on with this mediocre pish. 😦

    Good chemistry between the two leads but I didn’t care for either of them as characters.

    1. Welll… I mean I am almost 40 but I think the reviews were so mixed you are not alone. I loved Juno so maybe we’re just on different sides of this one.

      1. Or maybe I just hate obnoxious American teens more than you do… 😛 😉

  5. It’s one of my favourite movies from last year. I just really liked it and I enjoyed it a lot. YA movies have a tendency to be.. very not relatable but this one I related to a lot.

    1. I found it really relateable too. I think there was a bit of a love/hate response to this film. I loved it!

  6. ‘I liked that fact that the peers that the two thought they were so superior to were all actually pretty human and quite nice people.’ This is such a great point – I thought the secondary characters were actually pretty well-drawn, which is not something we can usually expect from teen movies. There were a lot of tropes at play in this film, but the humanity of the characters helped redeem it.
    Overall I liked this film, and did laugh a lot, but I think it was done a bit of a disservice by its marketing – I went in expecting a masterpiece and actually just found a pretty funny teen movie. Which is a great thing in its own right, but not what I thought I was getting!

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