It’s not often that a movie can capture an era, or even a feeling, so precisely. Each decade brings a new wave of teenage angst, drama, fads, and lingo– all with the same inevitable ending: growing up.
For the 80s, it was Pretty in Pink, followed by American Pie, brought to the 2000s by Superbad, and now, taken to a new level with Booksmart. The authentically witty and totally relatable film epitomizes the cliched phrase ‘instant classic,’ but it’s difficult to categorize it otherwise. Debut director Olivia Wilde explores a thoroughly modern Gen Z high school, brought to life by a slew of technicolored Urban Outfitters-clad charismatic characters.
Senior class president Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and best friend Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) embark on their final day as high schoolers. The pair soon realize that their hard-partying peers were shockingly accepted into the same Ivy League schools they were, and Molly and Amy become determined to prove they can be fun as well as smart.
From Lyft rides to RBJ references to gender-neutral bathrooms, “Booksmart” reminds us that we’re in 2019, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The film uses the tried-and-true nostalgic teen rom-com format to its advantage, allowing for a snappy script and outstanding performances to shine independently. Wilde proves to be a selfless director, showcasing the innate brilliance of Feldstein and Dever, along with talented supporting stars Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, and Wilde’s real-life husband Jason Sudeikis. The ensemble production, predominantly featuring young newcomer actors, was no doubt a labor of love.
Feldstein, a standout in 2017’s Lady Bird and fellow actor Jonah Hill’s younger sister, is a comic scene-stealer, proving depth and intensity in an emotional performance. Dever and Feldstein’s quirky chemistry, culminating in a tearful airport departure, complete the film. With honest takes on high school love–Molly grapples with the plight of how to be a proper feminist while still crushing on a stereotypically dumb jock while Amy lusts after the chill skater girl–Booksmart is a refreshing girl-powered comedy. Timeless yet modern, Booksmart is a must-see for summer.
The film hits theaters this Friday!