2019, Movies

Booksmart (2019, Olivia Wilde)

The “high school graduation party” movie has been done more than a few times. So has the “trying to find the big high school party” movie. And they’ve been combined, as they are in this film. But this movie has a new twist to the format: it’s girls, instead of guys, and they’re smart, and one of them runs the school, and one of them is gay. It’s a twist that injects an awful lot of life into a tired premise.

It also helps that it’s funny – it’s really funny. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched Superbad but this might be funnier. (It’s been a while, so who knows?) I laughed out loud many, many times. And though the movie has its requisite crisis in which things get serious, it is a relatively brief break in what is otherwise an extremely funny coming of age comedy.

I haven’t been in a high school in so long I can’t remember and I have no idea what life is like now. And it does feel like this is an idealized version of high school. (More on that in a minute.) But it does fee a little authentic too, particularly in the way the kids behave towards each other, especially with talking behind backs. What I mean is that I believe these are high school kids, even if I know the actors are a little too old and even if the whole thing feels a little bigger than life.

My biggest criticism is a bit of a weird one: I didn’t like high school – actually I hated it, and I feel like the celebration of it as a great time in your life doesn’t ring true. Despite who these girls are, they are not outsiders and that was not my experience. Maybe high school has changed but I doubt it. In the sense that everyone seems to be reasonably okay with the experience, I think it missed something. (But maybe that’s kids today, what do I know?)

There’s one thing I’m not sure whether it’s an asset or a flaw: the sheer wealth of a few of these kids is crazy and it feels as though this is a story of privileged kids (think about where they’re all going to school). But Molly lives in a duplex so there is at least some acknowledgement that they’re not all rich and I do wonder if this is deliberately left in the background. I think it’s probably a good thing but it is a little weird at how unbelievably rich at least 2 or possibly 3 of these kids are.

Anyway, this is just a great spin on these types of movies. It feels very much a product of its time, but that’s a good thing in this case as each generation usually gets a few of these movies. It’s good that this one is so entertaining.


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