Booksmart is a one wild night, end-of-high-school party caper, only this time our endearing failboat heroes are two girls in a story written and directed by sharp, fun-loving female filmmakers, the hookup quest belongs to the cute dorky lesbian, and there are no real villains besides arranging transportation. It’s rowdy and raucous and hilarious and heartfelt, feels like a big, rocking hug from millennial women to our shining Gen Z little sisters, and you should go see it in the most crowded theater you can find with as many of your friends as you can muster, for the literal lols—this movie was designed for those infectious peals of laughter that would take over the gang at a slumber party. Booksmart is absolutely the slumber party of movies, with that freewheeling happy energy that feels like it’s going to carry you through to morning and into the rest of your lives.
Molly and Amy, played to the peak by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, are a pair of idiosyncratic, high achieving rule-followers who approached school like their own personal battlefield, shielding themselves from the inane antics of their classmates behind their ambition and love for each other—both fierce. But on the last day, they discover that while they sequestered themselves off, buckled down, worked hard, and got into great colleges, their partying classmates UNbuckled and also got into great colleges. Determined to catch up on what they missed in one all-nighter (#nerds), they launch off to find the big graduation party at one kid’s aunt’s house, like a modern pair of clever, dumbass Odysseuses in blue jumpsuits.
The supporting cast of characters are sketched with tremendous kookiness and warmth for a teen party movie, but for my money the standout among them is Billie Lourd, who has absolutely inherited her mom Carrie Fisher’s astral plane goofball comedic genius, playing a character called Gigi whom one of the screenwriters has described as “a magical party coyote.” The surprises Gigi doles out are the most surreally outrageous, though honestly not by far (I was going to name one of a dozen other examples, but why take the zany joy of their reveals away from you? I’M NOT GONNA). But the Gigi discoveries are just the more absurd version of the kinds of discoveries we make about all the characters. Like any good work about young ones, this is a growing up tale, and a big part of growing up is growing less self-centered—learning that those around you are full, complex people too, who have their own weird passions & worries just like you and your best friend.
We’ve been in what feels like a bit of a groundswell of actors taking on directing roles lately, and after seeing Booksmart, hoo boy am I excited about the Olivia Wilde cinematic universe! This is a super duper well-made first feature, with punch and spirit and heart, the kind of normalized queer representation we’re always asking for, and several impressively bold stylistic swings, all of which has me very much looking forward to what she works on next. Basically, everyone involved with this movie is a star, go light up the sky babes.