Booksmart is an outrageously funny, occasionally moving directorial debut from Olivia Wilde which owes a huge chunk of its success to leads Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever.
As Molly and Amy, two overly-studious social outcasts looking for one great party to close out their high school careers, Feldstein and Dever have great chemistry and surprisingly natural comedic skills. Both shine throughout, and Dever’s command of the film’s few dramatic moments is also remarkable.
Like all great comedies, this one has a deep cast of secondary characters who – though they are archetypal in nature – provide plenty of opportunities for our leads to play with. Billie Lourd as Gigi is the standout here and steals every moment she can.
Wilde directs with admirable restraint and recognition for her cast’s comedic talents but also with good instincts for big moments and how to dial things up. One specific moment had a huge impact in just a matter of seconds, and it was all down to a smart directorial choice.
If there’s a downside to Booksmart, it’s that its plot and message are not-at-all original. Comparisons to Superbad are definitely warranted here, but Booksmart overcomes its story and message problems with its cast’s skill and the hilarity of its setpieces.
Booksmart is definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of the genre and has me excited to see where Olivia Wilde goes from here.