Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is one of the best comedies of the past decade.
Last year, Annapurna Pictures released the coming of age comedy Booksmart. The film is the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde (House) and written by Sarah Haskins (Carol’s Second Act). Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing) and Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird) star as best friends Amy and Molly- two “booksmart” high school seniors who are preparing for graduation. When Molly discovers that the students with lower grades and far less intelligence, are heading to excellent colleges she decides to coerce Amy into going out and partying for one night- to make up for four years of staying home and studying. The two embark on an insane adventure that constantly takes unexpected twists and turns. The film also stars Billie Lourd (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) as the mysterious Gigi, who somehow ends up at every location the girls do throughout their wild and crazy night.
If nothing else, the film is worth every penny for the performance of Billie Lourd. Lourd steals the entire movie, and every single scene she’s in as the care free, and spontaneous Gigi. It’s the role of a lifetime, and brings to mind characters/roles from other classic coming of age/high school films like Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, or McLovin from Superbad. Gigi is loveable, hilarious, and is the type of character you want to imagine in every film, just to see what she’d do. Lourd’s performance here proves that she is an insanely talented actress, who is going to have an amazing career ahead of her.
Dever and Feldstein also shine as Amy and Molly. Though most of their roles in the film follow the classic coming of age tropes, they both find ways of adding their own flair to the parts. There’s complexity to both of them, and the situations they’re in, and the journey they take throughout this insane evening is about much more than this one raucous night. The film does a great job of giving us a new take on some old tropes, making everything feel fresh and renewed, even when we can guess where things are going next. There’s still a handful of surprises, especially whenever Gigi shows up, but the film is a perfect addition to the list of classic coming of age films that have grown larger followings.
Booksmart is a nice change of pace from the usual mainstream films released, which all seem to be focused on established IP. It’s an original film, with a story that is heartfelt and fun. It’s something that expands this specific genre past the male led stories that have drowned out most genres. But more than anything, the film is just great. There isn’t a moment where you’ll be disappointed throughout- even when you’re disappointed in the characters. It brings you in, and asks you to come along for a wild, hilarious, and fun ride. One that you’ll likely want to return to over and over for years to come.
Booksmart is currently streaming on Hulu and is available for purchase of rental.