The nerds trying to be popular has been a subject of teen comedies since the beginning of the genre. Booksmart has a new twist on it, but this will probably be an everygreen concept for teen comedies to come for the rest of time.
Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) didn’t mind being unpopular in high school because they focused on studying and got into good colleges. But when Molly finds out all of her classmates got into Ivy League schools (or got tech jobs) too, she realizes they could have done both this whole time.
Now, the night before graduation, Molly vows to go to Nick (Mason Gooding)’s last high school party. Since they’ve never been popular, they take a lot of detours along the way.
Amy and Molly are immediately endearing as they dance to Amy’s car on the last day of school. Molly supports Amy coming out and asking girls out and Amy forbids Molly to body shame herself, and they are both each other’s biggest fans.
They have a lifetime of schtick together that they share and no explanation is needed. We just see how genuinely close they are.
Booksmart does a good job establishing all the supporting classmate characters. It’s more than just the nerd, the jock, etc. Each character is a unique perspective on a high school kid in 2019.
Jared (Skyler Gisondo) is a rich kid whose parents may have bought him a sex worker. Alan (Austin Crute) and George (Noah Galvin) are out and proud theater nerds. Triple A (Molly Gordon) is branded “the slut” but at the beginning Amy defends her and they’re not even friends. Amy just knows whatever her personality, that’s the wrong thing to criticize her for.
There’ve been teen party night movies for every generation and Booksmart has a great energy. Molly gives herself an empowering gift to have that experience, and that also includes the beauty of getting hurt and surviving. Out of heartbreak comes growth. Also, spending a little time outside of school with any of their classmates breaks through the facades.
Along the way there are plenty of hilarious misadventures, including a bluetooth joke that is a modern day equivalent of interrupting Judge Reinhold in the cabana. It gets surreal in parts and it’s wonderful.
Every generation deserves their own definitive teen movie, although I’m proof that you never stop appreciating them, even though I’m 41. Booksmart will speak to teens of 2019 and let the rest of us feel like teenagers again, for a little while.
Booksmart opens Friday, May 24.