My high school experience was fraught with a multitude of experiences, but nothing could cap the night we rented a suite in East St. Louis, Illinois to celebrate our graduation. There were 50 Black kids in a graduation class of what was nearly 1000 students. Most of us weren’t invited to any senior parties and decided to throw our own. Due to our raucous shenanigans, me, my peers and constituents were promptly encouraged for vacate the premises. As we stood in the parking lot looking dazed and confused, we realized that this would be the last time any of us would see each other as high school students. The next chapter of our lives would begin the day after graduation.
Needless to say, Booksmart resonated with me on a visceral level and made me laugh out loud at the lengths Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) would encounter to have just one night where they weren’t focused on being the best grades and throw caution to the wind. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is magnanimous. She takes everything about high school and rolls it out on a cinematic red carpet that will have audiences rolling in the aisles. It will truly make those who are fans of Ferris Bueller, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Weird Science. It takes female buddy/teen flicks to a whole new level and it is totally worth the ride.
Feldstein and Dever, with the aide of a spot on script by Katie Silberman, Emily Halperin, Sarah Haskins and Susana Fogel, take everything that is completely awkward about being young teen girls (masturbation, crushes, flirting, drinking, drugs, parents, hair masks) and make it the hippest, most hilarious high school trip of 2019. One of my favorite scenes involves strawberries, dolls, major mind tripping and a female ‘dukes of hazard’ moment at then end.
Allison Jones, who has cast such iconic comedies like Bridesmaids, Knocked Up and Eighth Grade, does an exemplary job with Booksmart. A fan of the casting process and a former inhabitant of that lane, Wilde revealed her reasoning for choosing Jones, ” Allison Jones is a genius and she’s known for casting generations of comedians with really iconic casts like VEEP and The Office. I went to her and said I love casting. It’s very important to me and as an actor I want to see everyone…if we truly look for everyone we’ll end up with a representative set that feels like we’ve done our part to at least reach beyond the pool that everybody dips into.”
Billie Lourd as Gigi is outrageous and contagious along with Austin Crute (Alan), Noah Galvin (George), Eduardo Franco (Theo) and Jessica Williams (Miss Fine). Trust me when I say this generation will be looking back at Booksmart 20 years from now laughing and reminiscing about just how cool and special high school really is.
Produced by Annapurna Pictures and Gloria Sanchez Productions, Booksmart has an early advance release date on May 17th with a nationwide roll out on May 24th.