From John Hughes’s reign in the 80’s to the modern era of John Green and Netflix originals, teen movies have undoubtedly remained a staple of modern cinema. Despite their popularity, their titles often hide behind more tasteful films, only to be pulled out as a guilty pleasure on a bad day.
It’s not difficult to see why.
Teen movies are often ripe with cliches and flat characters, stories directly from a 12-year-old’s dream journal. However, the new generation of teenagers is beginning to want more. As the younger generation’s political consciousness grows, so does their demand for entertainment to match. “Booksmart” offers just that.
The movie is not a new concept — two high schoolers plan to have the night of their lives. It’s a blueprint for guaranteed success, but the twist comes in when you consider who the main characters are.
Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstien) are two extremely high-achieving high school seniors who dedicated their entire lives to getting good grades and preparing for their futures. They lived by the assumption that having fun and being intelligent were mutually exclusive, something so thoroughly enforced in media that it’s difficult to not believe.
After learning that their peers, the apparently low-achieving slackers, were going on to be just as successful, the two best friends decide to try and make up for their years of denying invitations to stay in and study by attending a real party.
From watching porn in the back of a Lyft to name-dropping Malala Yousafzai, the movie makes a point directly opposing what so many movies reinforce — it is possible to be intelligent and party. They can party like it’s “Superbad” without being the same burnout losers everyone would expect them to be.
As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what most young people are doing in the real world.
In addition to breaking down that massive barrier, the movie is just incredibly funny. As the two girls jump from location to location, they’re greeted by a cast of characters just as chaotic as them.
It’s all absurd in the most realistic way. I’m sure few people have ever held up a pizza driver while wearing a mask made of hair or stumbled into an incredibly well-rehearsed murder mystery party, but Amy and Molly’s reactions are exactly what you would say if you did. They’re aware that all of this is ridiculous, and they’re just going with it.
This accurate banter is also aided by the fact that Amy and Molly truly do act like they’ve known each other for years. They fight, they bicker and they hype each other up. Their relationship is personal, but you can see that without feeling like you’re third-wheeling. It’s masterfully pulled off thanks to the directorial work of Olivia Wilde, and something tells me there’s only more great things to come from her down the line.
As a whole, this movie is fantastic. It is a quippy teen comedy that hits right where some trashy movies do while also excelling in every other area. Without a doubt, “Booksmart” is the movie the world needs right now.