“Booksmart” is a refreshing take on the typical teen movie


Illustration by Jessica Tapia

Alison Pfaff, Managing Editor

“Booksmart” may not have captured box office numbers, but it captured my nostalgic soul.

Going into the theater I had high expectations for this movie. I heard it was ranked among some other recent coming-of-age teen movies, such as “Edge of Seventeen” and “Lady Bird,” both of which I absolutely loved.

“Booksmart,” directed by Olivia Wilde and starring Kaitlyn Dever as Amy, and Beanie Feldstein as Molly, is the story of two high school seniors who bury themselves in homework, books and AP testing only to realize they missed a key part of their experience as teenagers – partying. Chaos ensues as the girls try to make up for lost time.

The different personalities portrayed in the film aren’t completely for laughs. There isn’t a token character that’s simply there to be made fun of.  Also, the various high school stereotypes are broken. While Molly and Amy are considered the “brains” at school, the typical ostracizing of the “nerds” found in teen movies, while it is there, is not a key plot point.  

This movie, taking place in 2019, reflects the time we live in and the fact that teenagers know more than adults may think about what is going on around them despite their questionable decisions. The main characters openly talk about sex, relationships, political leaders and activists in a way that’s uncommon for the genre.

“Booksmart” was a joy to watch. I saw it with a friend I have known since high school. We could not stop laughing.

The film definitely took advantage of its R rating, and it helped to illustrate a realistic experience that many at that age face. The jokes and shenanigans were calculated, witty and extremely well done. Specifically, their entire experience while on their tireless quest to find their classmates iconic house party was absolutely hilarious, from harassing a pizza delivery driver to find the address to the party, to their first experiences with drugs, all on the quest for their last hurrah before graduating high school.

Feldstein and Dever’s chemistry as best friends was refreshing and real. It did not come across like they were trying too hard, or being crude for the sake of being crude.

As I am writing this review, box office numbers have come in at about $8.6 million for its Memorial Day weekend release. I hoped it would do better, but it’s not surprising. When faced with competition such as “Aladdin” or even “Detective Pikachu,” perhaps people were looking for something more family friendly for their Memorial Day weekend.

Despite its low box office numbers, the film is a must-see this summer and breaks through barriers within the typical teen movie genre.