“Booksmart”: Targeted for Teenagers but a Must-Watch for All


Lara Garay

“Booksmart” is the story of two Ivy League bound teenage girls who decide to make the most of their final summer after high school.

Alma Kent, Games and Humor Editor

Falcon rating: 5/5

Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart is the kind of movie that can make an entire theater buzz with laughter and excitement. Set in LA, the film tells the story of two best friends, Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) on their last night as high schoolers. The girls spent their high school careers focused exclusively on activities that would ensure their acceptance to top tier universities—and it worked; Molly is off to Yale and Amy to Columbia. However, early on in the film, the pair learn that many of their less studious peers will also be attending those same Ivy League schools the following year. Outraged that others were able to have fun and be academically successful, the two are determined to go to their first ever party on the night before graduation. What follows is a hilarious, eccentric saga of adventures, disappointments, and revelations.

The film has had immense success thus far, much of which can be credited to its relevance; everything down to its release date—which fell just at the peak of graduation season—makes Booksmart feel tailor-made for today’s youth. Unlike older films in the genre, Booksmart strays away from cliché teen archetypes. There are no designated “bullies” or “victims,” “outcasts” or “popular kids,” but rather each individual character fulfills all of these roles at one point or another. In an interview with Slash Films, Dever, who plays Amy, said, “I think [the film] really represents the generation right now, where young people are more inclusive, very evolved, very intelligent, and I think these people don’t really care who you are. There’s so much love in this generation.”

Wilde and her all-female production team have refreshed the classic teen comedy by putting almost all of the film’s focus on the two female leads. Feldstein and Dever emerge as hilarious, lovable, and dynamic characters in a time when it is rare to see young women highlighted in comedy.

Although it is clear that Booksmart is targeted toward a specific demographic, it is important that it not be seen as exclusive.

Additionally, the manner in which the movie presents college shows how many of today’s high schoolers function. Teenagers are going to extreme lengths to beef up their college applications in the hopes of receiving spots at highly selective universities. Very early on in the film, the main characters come to regret focusing so intensively on getting into college rather than on taking advantage of their youth and having fun. It seems as though, in the end, all the party-going characters would be attending the same schools as Molly and Amy. This detail and many others urge audience members to put into perspective the college application process and to recognize what great opportunity lies in being young.

Although it is clear that Booksmart is targeted toward a specific demographic, it is important that it not be seen as exclusive. At its core, the film is one about friendship, youth, and growing up––experiences shared by almost everyone. The realistic and intimate depiction of Molly and Amy’s relationship is sure to resonate with any potential viewer. Furthermore, the film is able to capture the distinct feeling that comes with transitioning into any new phase of life by highlighting the different dimensions of Molly and Amy’s graduation: the many feelings of fear, excitement, sadness, nostalgia, and joy all at once.

Aside from the film’s relatability, Booksmart draws its success from being outrageously funny. Along with the entertaining plotline of the film, with its many unexpected twists and turns, its characters and their relationships are what make the movie memorably hilarious. The scene in which the girls are driven by their principal to a party in a Lyft is a prime example of how funny and well-developed all of the characters are. While there are a few moments when the humor feels over-the-top and has the potential to alienate the viewer, the stellar performances by Dever and Feldstein, along with the realistic depiction of their friendship, keep the movie well grounded.

So, whether you are a jock or a nerd, an artist or a stoner—or all of the above—you are sure to find something to like in Booksmart—even if that’s just a couple of hearty laughs.