Review by Joshua Rothkopf
The current golden era of high-school movies is offering the ‘Breakfast Club’ generation serious competition. Some of these films are good enough to land multiple Oscar nominations (‘Lady Bird’). Some sneak heartache into comedy (‘The Edge of Seventeen’). Some are sharp-edged and sassy (‘Easy A’). ‘Booksmart’ could be all of the above.
Scripted by an inspired quartet (Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman), ‘Booksmart’ invents a socially awkward, Ivy League-bound duo, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein from ‘Lady Bird’). The two pals’ smugness rings hollow: their equally nerdy peers have also got into exclusive universities, but those classmates who spent their time necking beer bongs and having tons of sex along the way? They got in too. How did the two never learn to multitask?
In her behind-the-camera debut, actor-turned-director Olivia Wilde shows off something rarer than technique or comic timing: she’s got loads of compassion. The classic high-school ‘types’ – the spoiled loner, the spaced-out drama chick, the buff bro – are all given the chance to evolve into genuine characterisations. And it all happens within the space of a single sex-positive night. People, demand a ‘Booksmart’ cinematic universe!