Starring: Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Jason Sudeikis
Director: Olivia Wilde
Running Time: 105 mins
Booksmart is an American film about two high school friends who, on the eve of their graduation, realise they haven’t had any fun over their high school careers, so they set out on a wild night to take part in the party of their lives.
You’ve very likely seen this sort of movie before: a couple of nerds go out on a wild night that gets way out of hand (effectively Superbad), but there are few films with this premise that make it all look so easy, as Booksmart provides an hour and a half of pure, delightful and endlessly hilarious fun, combining with two immensely likable leads and heartwarming emotion throughout, easily making for one of the best high school comedies in a very long time.
On the face of things, the closest comparison to Booksmart has to be cult comedy classic Superbad, and it’s hard to draw a big difference between the two films when it comes to its premise and sense of humour – even some of the jokes are just the same. However, Superbad was a great laugh, but Booksmart is arguably even better, blending that chaotic comedy with genuine heart and emotion, and making for an altogether even more likable movie.
Of course, the first thing that you should know about Booksmart is just how funny it is. Right from the word go, I was laughing my socks off as the film throws hilarious joke after hilarious joke at you, with the girls’ night going from ridiculous hijink to ridiculous hijink.
Olivia Wilde directs the film with some style, giving it a red-hot pace that makes the barrage of ridiculous comedy even funnier, and with a pace that just doesn’t stop rising, the film gets more and more hilarious the more you get sucked in, something that even Superbad doesn’t do in quite such deliriously entertaining fashion.
It is a high school movie, and normally this brand of comedy is susceptible to falling into tropes of the tedious and trivial world of high school social hierarchy, as well as relying heavily on gross-out, juvenile humour, but Booksmart gets the balance just right, bringing in all of that when it’s warranted, but still winning with witty, well-written and simply brilliant jokes on their own as well.
So, simply put, if you want to watch a film that’s going to make you laugh, Booksmart will do the job more than nicely. However, that’s only the half of it, and the reason that the film is definitely superior to Superbad in my book is the fact that it’s got a really nice heart to it as well.
Sure, the chaotic revelry is the main draw, and the film doesn’t shy away from that, but what really struck me about Booksmart was just how carefully it plots the changing relationship between the two best friends played by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. The trajectory of their friendship isn’t what you’re normally used to in Hollywood movies, and as such I won’t spoil it, but it’s such a huge part of the story that’s handled with such wonderful heart and genuine care, and makes the movie a hundred times more endearing come the finale.
And of course, we can’t forget about those two fantastic lead performances from Feldstein and Dever, who are absolutely hilarious from beginning to end, as well as so, so likable throughout. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera were lovably stupid in Superbad, but Feldstein and Dever match their comedic brilliance with real dramatic chops, bringing to life far more rounded characters that make the film so much more interesting as well as hilarious, the final thing that really makes this such a brilliant movie in the end.
Overall, I loved Booksmart. Not only a laugh-out-loud hilarious watch, but an equally heartwarming and emotionally engaging one, it’s a film that makes teen comedy look so simple, with brilliantly energetic direction from Olivia Wilde, and two immensely entertaining lead performances from Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.1.