Last month, Oliva Wilde tweeted somewhat of a plea asking people to go see her film Booksmart. It’s her directorial debut and she admitted in the tweet that it was getting ‘creamed by the big dogs’ at the box office. “[We] need your support” she added.
Now that I’ve seen the film (not because of Olivia’s plea, I was always going to go see it, after the brilliant trailer) I’m devastated at the thought of Booksmart not doing well and not enough people seeing it, because it’s the closest thing to a perfect movie I’ve seen in a long long time.
I know that’s a big claim. But if you’re looking for a film full of wit, representation, heart and hilarity with women at the forefront, get yourself to the cinema.
Every now and again, my heart feels full when I see a film. It sounds dramatic, but it’s a feeling I get from a film that is uplifting, powerful and impactful. It doesn’t happen often. It happened at the start of Wonder Woman, because of the strong warrior women training but fizzled out as the movie became a little bit more predictable and more of a love story. With Booksmart though, there was no fizzle.
It follows Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), two best friends who always considered themselves too smart, their education too important for them to have fun with the rest of their class. That is until Molly realises that you can be both someone highly intelligent who gets into a good college, and someone who parties. With just one night to go before graduation, the girls plan to cram in as much fun as they can in one night, this includes drinking, accidental drugs, dancing and maybe some romance.
Amy came out a few years ago, but has yet to have any sexual encounter with a girl – but does have her eye on someone. The LGBT representation is subtle, but not in a way that shies away from it so that only those looking for it can find. It’s more so in the way that it doesn’t define her, but is still very much part of who she is. This is something we need to see more of in big films. Not an LGBT film or a film with a stereotypical gay person, but an acknowledgement without making it the point of the story. The film does it brilliantly. It doesn’t shy away from same-sex love scenes either but embraces it as awkward and innocent as it would be for anyone’s the first time.
The two leads in the film aren’t Amazonian supermodels who are somehow still in secondary school like we’ve seen in lots of other teen movies. But that’s not to say they aren’t stunning either, Beanie has huge brown eyes and a big smile while Kaitlyn has a cherub face and cool-girl vibes. They are beautiful in the sense that you could know them. They could be your friend, which something the film makes us feel a lot.
The supporting cast is a brilliant mix of cooky characters each with their own established looks and personalities, ensuring that no one fades into the background. From poor, overzealous Jared who just wants to be liked, to their Miss Fine who is simply a good teacher who misses her youth.
I remember growing up wondering why women were always slim, blonde and pretty with not many lines when men could look like anything and take the lead. I hope 8-year-olds don’t wonder that anymore, and it will be thanks to Olivia Wilde and the team behind Booksmart.
These women have lots to say about politics, feminism and life all while being hilarious. The comedic timing makes some of the lines what they are. Beanie is the sister of Superbad’s Jonah Hill, and she possesses the same talents for facial expressions and pausing just enough to make it even funnier. This movie, like Bridesmaids but better, shows us that women can be crude, sexual beings among all the other traits.
It’s been understandably compared to Superbad, it’s got the same sort of storyline about teens getting to the party but with more layers.
10 years after the Jonah Hill comedy, his sister gives us exactly what we need from a 2019 version of the film and then some. It’s got the same fun, silliness at times, but with so much more heart.
At its essence, it’s a coming of age film about best friends, with all the ups and downs that come with clinging to one person for all of your school years, and learning to adapt to what next year will be like.
It skips the done-to-death tropes while holding on to everything we love about a teen movie from crushes to awkward disaster incidents to heartbreak and emotion.
It’s progressive and inclusive, but not in a forced because-we-feel-like-we-have-to way, simply because it’s part of what makes a good movie.
When: In cinemas now, go see it!
Bring: Your best friend, the girl gang, your boyfriend – just maybe not your parents if you don’t love watching sex scenes with your parents…