Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart observes the archetypal characters we usually neglect at some coming-of-age movie, treats them with real-human personalities and gives them the arc they actually deserve. It’s an ode to the sidekick—the overachievers, the geeks, the moral compasses and the virgins—played by the regular sidekicks, Beanie Feldstein (that sidekick in Lady Bird) and Kaitlyn Dever (that sidekick in The Spectacular Now and Laggies). Odd but true, this is surprisingly an optimistic if not rebellious coming-of-age comedy, which apparently paves its way to be one of the most iconic in this generation.
Feldstein and Dever respectively portray Molly, the valedictorian, and Amy, a self-willed feminist; both are serious, visionary, woke—politically and culturally, and they know what they’re doing. They might look like the usual side-guys—the one that everyone keeps looking down in terms of being cool, except they’re not. At least, they believe they’re not. Molly and Amy are pretty confident that their whole academic dedication and their abstinence from the usual high school fun have eventually granted them with golden tickets—such as early Ivy Leagues college admission and elaborated future plans. And yet, they soon learn the the fact which escapes their horizon only in the last day of school: that everyone else—the party-goers and class-skippers—also has their own golden tickets.
Booksmart takes the protagonists’ fear of being misled for the whole high school as a catalyst to the whole plot about the night of redemption. At least for one last night, Molly and Amy are eager to move their credo aside only to prove the world that they would have a real fun during high school; that they can be cool, too. Written collectively by Susan Fogel and Emily Halpern from the mind of Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman, Booksmart cliff-jumps and plunges right into to the jungle of hedonistic-laden teenage night full of debauchery and irresponsible fun, for a whole Dazed and Confused night to remember. With the spirit to freeze all moments in eternity, Olivia Wilde fluently guides the audiences into the cacophony of last high school year in her directorial debut.
Feldstein and Dever perfectly mix up different chemicals to make sure that their chemistry catalyzes the narrative to be more than just some redemption night story, but also a self-discovery voyage. Through their eyes, we learn how high school archetypal student constructions are some three-decade-old product, which not be relevant anymore. Kids who have fun but still succeeds in their academic life do exists and Booksmart forces the protagonists to learn the fact the hard way. They are punished with the baffling act, but there’s barely some dramatic punishment, in exchange they are given eye-opening experiences which we snowballs from simply a simple noise to a total cacophony.
While filled with witty dialogues which could be some one-liners or a real discursive talks, the narrative does not stop to ponder or fumble with some exposition. The wit continues to the visual manifestation which does not cease to astonish with the audacity that Wilde eager to bring—the scenes which involves lesbian sex porn and the bluetooth speaker, or the scene where the protagonist turns into barbie dolls. Wait until you see how beautiful the swimming pool scene is or, way better, Amy’s rendition of Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know.
Wilde carefully portrays the characters on-screen, making them the sidekicks to everyone else at times. You’re forgiven when you think both Feldstein and Dever does not outshine each other. They work as a pair of enlightenment that show audiences just how real people is observed in real life. That’s how Olivia Wilde teams up with the usual sidekicks in Booksmart, an uplifting coming-of-age comedy with enough party, wit and sincerity. You will not see booksmart people the same again after this.