I’ve been looking forward to seeing this film ever since I first saw it previewed. I thought it looked like a well made and fun fun coming of age comedy and led by two extremely talented leads. I was also interested to see Olivia Wilde’s work behind the camera, and after seeing Booksmart I’m sure she’s going to be directing more. So overall, this film is just such a blast; everything falls into place in a near perfect fashion.
Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are true talents and when you put them together (which they are through 90% of the film) it’s just magic. I couldn’t help but smile because they have such electric chemistry. The chemistry isn’t only comedic, but dramatic as well. Billie Lourd impressed me here, I’d really only seen her in American Horror Story, which I liked her in, but here she gets to just go crazy. She fits her character perfectly and brings this wonderfully nuts hilarity to every scene she’s in.
I was so happy to see Noah Galvin show up in this! I used to watch the ABC sitcom, The Real O’Neals, he did with Martha Plimpton. Unfortunately, that series didn’t live to see a second season, which I hated for him because he’s such a multi faceted talent. He gets to shine here, as does Skyler Gisondo. I don’t watch Santa Clarita Diet so the only thing I’d ever seen him in was the reboot of Vacation, which was not good, so suffice to say I didn’t have a stellar impression of him. I’m glad to say that this film gives him opportunities to display his strengths and I liked what he brought.
One of the best things about this film is that everyone is given time to shine and I never felt like “why is this person even here?” Also, characters that you’d think are just there to act as that one dimensional joke or a thing to laugh at occasionally get actual depth, which is very nice. The writing is jam packed with sharp, hilarious dialogue that just goes for it. Nothing is watered down; this script really goes for it and it never seems ridiculous or over the top. In addition to the well written comedy, the dramatic scenes are handled effectively, too. The friendship between the two leads is really great and a much of that is because of the two actresses but the writing has a hand in that victory too.
I love the layout and pace of the film. It moves very well from one thing to another and every stop it makes has so much to enjoy. I was never bored, in fact I loved it all so much, I just wanted it to go on. Coming of age/teen party films can be so much fun and can be some of the most fun films to watch if done correctly. You’ve got to provide your audience with a lot of sharp comedy and you’ve also got to elicit genuine feeling. Booksmart does both of those things and it does them effectively.
I absolutely loved the diverse cast and the representation offered up. There is both racial and sexual diversity, and the characters are treated as real, not like side jokes, which has happened in past teenage films. Everyone’s true self and identity is validated and handled with care. Take a lesson filmmakers, this is how you do it.
Booksmart is right up there with Love, Simon in the list of the best modern day coming of age films. Honestly, I couldn’t come up with a glaring negative. This should be one of the films shown to upcoming filmmakers as an example of how to do things right.