Booksmart: A Dazed and Confused for 2019

July 7, 2019

 

Another in a long line of coming of age movies about socially awkward teen girls, this may seem a mile away from something like Eighth Grade, but what the two films have in common, and it’s exactly this quality that makes me so affectionate towards them, is their empathy. This film recalled something like the Breakfast Club, where all the different tribes in the high school come together and mutually realise just how clueless they all are and that none of them were as alone as they have always felt. This is a much more upbeat film than Eighth Grade or even The Breakfast Club (which for the record, are both better films), but still has a lot of heart to it. It’s easy to also connect this film to Dazed and Confused, but no, this film succeeds in every way that film failed horribly. 

 

The film follows Molly and Amy, two high school bookworms who, realising that they have wasted their high school years studying instead of cultivating their social lives beyond each other, resolve to make up for lost time in their last night before graduation, resulting in a party crawl with the end goal of hooking up with their respective crushes. 

For one thing, the characters, although flawed and potentially very annoying, are good people and very lovable. I’ve been saying that Kaitlyn Dever needs to become a star since Short Term 12, but this is a movie where everyone deserves to be famous in the future. These kids are honestly hilarious, charming, distinct, and have real acting chops as well, all of them. Aside from Dever and Feldman I also want to give special mentions from the ensemble to Billie Lourd and Skyler Gisondo as the dissolute rich kids on the quad who provided the movie with its funniest and more unexpectedly it’s most moving moments. It’s exactly this sort of way that the movie and its characters surprise you that makes it so endearing.

 

There are a lot of jokes that the movie crams into its run time, the film does keep up a terrific pace, and not all of them kill. The only real clanger though is a misjudged and overlong drug trip scene, even though the payoff is funny I had seen it done before and it was tired anyway then. 

 

That minor blip aside, this was a lot of fun, very charming and energetic and endearing and as with Long Shot, what makes it really work is the love between the main characters. From the very start they totally feel like they are old friends and by the end they’ve become yours too.

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