The Reel Review

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Amy and Molly were the nerdy, good girls in high school. They studied, didn’t get into trouble and got into good colleges. But when they find out on the last day of classes that all their more irresponsible, fun-seeking classmates also got into those same good colleges, they decide to make up for four years of missing out with a final night of partying.

This directorial debut from actress Olivia Wilde (The Lazarus Effect, House) is a clever, funny and immensely charming teenage coming of age comedy – a throwback to similar 80s era comedies with all the expected hijinks, and even more heart. Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird) and Kaitlyn Dever (Justified) both slay it as the two quirky besties, one straight and one gay, each blissfully unaware of their coolness, on the verge of starting the next chapter in their lives. (To give you a sense of the humor, Molly convincingly pretends to be Amy’s lesbian girlfriend to Amy’s sweet and super supportive parents, played by Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte.)

The supporting cast is also first-rate – in particular, Billie Lourd (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Gigi, the free spirit who magically appears everywhere the girls end up, Skyler Gisondo (Vacation) as Jared, the epically lonely rich kid trying to buy the affection of his peers, and Jason Sudekis (We’re The Millers) as their smart-mouthed school principal. The messages, about the enduring bonds of friendship and that people become more relatable and less one-dimensional once you take the time to get to know them, are terrific.

REEL FACTS

• Beanie Feldstein, the younger sister of actor Jonah Hill, initially auditioned for another role in Booksmart but when Olivia Wilde joined the project she wisely asked Beanie to play Molly.

• Billie Lourd is the daughter of the late Carrie Fisher.

• Olivia Wilde says her inspiration for Booksmart were The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused and Clueless.

 

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