‘Nobody knows that we are fun…’
I absolutely love a coming of age movie. Or a Bildungsroman to unnecessarily use the literary term. Stand by Me, Dazed and Confused, The Spectacular Now etc etc. These are some of the films that have defined my own supposed coming of age that has seen the metamorphosis of a fat young caterpillar into a proud, fat butterfly….
Booksmart follows this proud tradition while also owing a debt to films like Superbad and American Pie. To call Booksmart the Superbad for girls is a little reductive, but it is also kind of accurate.
Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are best friends who are jolted out of their bookish complacency when they realise that they are about to graduate High School and yet they have never had any goddamn fun due to their obsession with passing exams. The pair decide to have one wild night to make up for all the teenage fun times they have missed out on.
Firstly, Booksmart is a beautifully directed, genuinely funny and heartwarming movie. The two leads are fantastic throughout and any film that features Jason Sudeikis as a teacher moonlighting as a Lyft driver is absolutely fine by me. Booksmart made me root for Amy and Molly and, ultimately, that is possibly the most vital component in any coming of age picture.
The downfall of Booksmart is its predictability. For all the imaginative scenes featuring claymation and the impromptu dance numbers, the plot beats felt incredibly familiar and this renders the whole thing a little toothless at times.
Having said that, it’s difficult to imagine anybody actively disliking this movie and it doesn’t outstay its welcome which results in a perfect Sunday afternoon timewaster. While Booksmart will never trouble the upper echelons of the genre, it is a satisfying addition. Also, I imagine if I were a teenage girl rather than a grotesque old man I would probably have loved this movie a little more.