The directorial debut from Olivia Wilde, Booksmart is a coming of age comedy. Now this is a genre that has seen a huge spike in popularity recently with films like Edge of Seventeen or Blockers, but I don’t think we have seen one that has the chance to become a classic in the vein of Clueless or Mean Girls like Booksmart does.
Simply put Booksmart is the funniest film to have hit cinemas in couple of years, with Thor: Ragnarok probably being the last time I laughed this hard. The focus of Booksmart is on a pair of overachievers. Amy, a quieter and more meek personality, and Molly, a pushier person who believes she is smarter than most of their classmates. Played by Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein a large reason the film works because their dynamic and chemistry is fantastic, and have you rooting for their characters and the superb friendship depicted. Feldstein has made her name as a supporting character in a few recent coming of age films, whilst Dever has been in smaller roles in a number of projects, but both of them prove they are more than capable leading ladies.
And backing them up is an exceptional supporting cast. There are some more established comedic actors such as Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jessica Williams, but the ones who really shine are these younger more unknown actors. This feels like the kind of film where we will be looking back at this young cast and be amazed by the amount of talent there was, because hopefully a lot of these young actors will go on to great things. Skyler Gisondo, Diana Silvers, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin, Austin Crute, Mason Gooding, Victoria Ruesga, and Eduardo Franco are all brilliant as a wide array of characters from Amy and Molly’s class, all playing really interesting and unique characters, who all feel more real and three dimensional that the supporting characters in many of the classic high school movies. Billie Lourd as Gigi though steals absolutely every scene she is in, and had the audience in hysterics.
One of the big unknown factors going into Booksmart was how would Olivia Wilde handle the transition from acting to directing, and the answer is brilliantly. This is a genuinely remarkable film, and one that would be impressive from a veteran director. One of the best parts of Wilde’s direction was her use of music and sound to really help create some truly uplift, heartbreaking, and generally powerful and moving scenes. Whilst a lot of the music she uses isn’t something I would generally listen to, it is perfect for the film and Wilde shows an ability to use modern music as well as many brilliant filmmakers have used classic rock.
Honestly Booksmart is the most fun I’ve had with a film in a long time. It provided a ton of comedy that everyone in the cinema was finding hilarious. Coupled with one of the best cast of characters, where even the smallest roles stand out, Booksmart has the potential to become a classic of the coming of age comedy genre in a few years, so long as people manage to discover it.