Booksmart gets an A+

Jack Harris ’22 explains why “Booksmart” is one of the best movies of the year


Jack Harris, WSS Intern

“Booksmart” is easily one of the best high school movies in a long time. Ever since John Hughes stopped making movies there has been a major drop in the quality and quantity of high school movies. These factors lead to Booksmart to being a breath of fresh air.
The movie follows best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) as they try to pack four years of partying into the night before graduation because they realize that they haven’t had any fun in high school and everyone thinks they’re stuck ups who only care about school.
One of the most surprising parts of this movie is seemingly devoid of talent it is. The most recognizable actor is Jason Sudeikis. The movie has 4 writers, but only one of them has written more than 1 feature length movies. The Director, Olivia Wilde, has never even directed a movie before, being most experienced as an actor. This movie clearly shows that it isn’t talent, fame, or experience that makes a movie. Instead it’s hard working people coming together to create the same vision.
The comedy in this movie is absolute gold. Throughout the entire movie, there’s consistently great comedic moments that never hold back and helps the characters seem more like high school seniors finally unwinding after 5 years. The comedy and dialogue between Amy and Molly is what really gives the main characters great chemistry and makes there friendship feel real. The comedy in this movie, as well as the movie as a whole, panders to a high school audience. One of the best parts of this movie and its comedy is that there aren’t throwaway jokes. Whenever something funny and strange or random happens, the movie doesn’t just ignore it. Instead it utilizes those jokes later on in a way that’s even funnier. This is best exemplified with the pizza guy and the stuffed panda.
Truth be told, the plot is rather basic. It’s just the main characters going to a party and experiencing some misadventures along the way, and through their experiences the change for the better. What really makes the plot work is the great acting from the entire cast and the established connections between each character. With these two combined, all of the plot points, no matter how cliched, still make sense and don’t feel as unoriginal as they should.
One part of this movie that sets it apart from many other high school movies is how technically impressive it is. The sets are good enough and there are some really good shots but where this movie really shines is in the lighting of many scenes. The way Wilde uses lighting to set mood or highlight parts of a scene is surprisingly masterful for a first time director. This usage is most present in the karaoke scene, where as Amy comes out of her shell more and tries to impress the girl she has a crush on, the light from the projector changes to brighter and brighter colors.
The characters in “Booksmart” for the most part have good personality and both Molly and Amy have depth and grow throughout the film. It’s not the depth or the personality of the characters that makes them special. What’s impressive about these characters is their relatability. All the characters in this movie have something about them that you can sympathize or connect with. Amy is out to everyone but she still feels scared to open up to people because she’s worried that every time she has a crush on a girl they’ll end up being strait. Molly is nervous that people won’t respect her so she spends all of her time trying to accomplish as much academically as possible so people will finally respect her. Jared just wants people to like him so he does whatever he can to bribe people into liking him. Hope is worried people will find out she’s lesbian so she treats people around her terrible so they can’t get close enough to her to find out. All these characters are interesting enough but because we can relate to them it makes the movie so much better.
Some criticisms of “Booksmart are that it panders too much to a young gen z audience. I think that this so called “pandering” is a good thing because the movie is trying to teach a lesson to young people and really the movie just panders to people who have been through high school. The ideas this movie preaches would also easily be applied to different aspects of anyone’s life, whether it be your job, love life, or just trying new things. The other main complaint is that this movie is unrealistic. I do really get this complaint but I feel that the exaggerated parts of this movie are completely necessary to make this as good of a comedy as it is. Exaggeration is necessary for comedy because the mundane isn’t funny.
“Booksmart” is an amazing movie for everyone old enough to see it and is hilarious while still being smart enough to deliver a good lesson to the people who watch it, make sure to live and take risks because of how they shape you as a person. Even though not all the experiences Amy and Molly have are good, because they took those risks they became better people and get more out of life.