Booksmart Comedy

Review: ‘Booksmart’ is a Hilariously Raunchy Ode to the Complexity of Real Female Friendships

May 24, 2019Sherry Li

Hilarious and raunchy, Booksmart is a coming-of-age comedy that follows two best friends on the night before their high school graduation — and it's a near-perfect directorial debut from Olivia Wilde.

Realizing that they chose to focus on their education while their peers juggled both partying and studying and still managed to get into the same colleges, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) decide to take action. Determined not to leave high school without ever having attended a party, they head out on the eve of graduation to find the party that everyone is at — making plenty of hilarious stops along the way.

The film, which genuinely feels like a spiritual successor to Superbad, is grounded in the strong bond between its two main characters. Right from the beginning, Booksmart feels like an ode to the complexity of real female friendships, something that may be attributed to the all-women screenwriting team behind it.

Feldstein and Dever both shine in their own unique ways and have undoubtedly sealed their careers in comedy with their performances here. While Amy's arc is more in-line with what you might expect from your traditional coming-of-age story — focusing on her crush on a fellow classmate named Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) — both her and Molly's growth and experiences throughout the movie are handled with plenty of thoughtfulness and care.

What makes Booksmart so great, though, is that despite being incredibly progressive in its storytelling, it still manages to take on its male-oriented predecessors. That's not to say that this film isn't filled with jokes about sex — or that there isn't a brutally awkward sex scene — but it leans more on the chemistry of the main cast, along with the funny and likeable side characters (most notably, Jason Sudeikis as Principal Brown, Skyler Gisondo as Jared, and Billie Lourd as Gigi), not to mention its sharp writing.

There's a lot of heart behind the writing, as well as all the jokes that ring true to an almost authentic high school experience. There aren't that many movies that have managed to capture such an honest reflection of the type of friendship that can exist between two teenage girls, especially in a context that is such a traditionally male-dominated genre. Yet, Booksmart isn't in your face, and it's the subtlety of what it leaves out that makes it so appealing to women.

The perfect mix of raunchy and real, the result is exactly what audiences need right now. Funny, feminist and female-friendly, Booksmart is Superbad for a new generation.

Booksmart releases May 24th, 2019 from eOne Films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong sexual content and language throughout, drug use and drinking - all involving teens. Its runtime is 1 hr. 42 min.

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