Entertainment » Movies

Booksmart

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 10, 2019
Booksmart

The high school comedy is a staple of cinema. A different flavor of the coming-of-age story, the genre's style of choice is cyclical; there is no "American Pie" without "Porky's," no "Superbad" and "Mean Girls" without "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Better Off Dead," and "Can't Hardly Wait." And while the masses often compare "Booksmart" to a gender-flipped "Superbad" it is perhaps more inexorably tied to the oeuvre of John Hughes. It's a lofty comparison, as few can equate to the strength of Hughes' hold on teenage adolescence, but "Booksmart" ain't no slouch.

It's the last day of school for best friends and top students Amy and Molly. The pair are inseparable and driven, making the choice to forego a social life of parties and drinking to focus on their studies and set themselves up for a life of excellence. But as they overhear the collegiate plans of their more debauchery-prone colleagues, they start to worry that maybe they chose poorly. Determined to make things right, the girls set out to have a night full of everything they missed before they collect their diplomas.

On the surface, "Booksmart" follows the basic model of the high school comedy: the misfits set out to have as much fun as the cool kids. But what makes "Booksmart" different from so many also-rans is its strength of self. Director Olivia Wilde appears content to let you believe that this is a world populated by stereotypes, if only so she can yank that rug right from under you. The screenplay by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman takes the care to imbue all of its characters with depth and nuance. Its leads stand out, ignited by kinetic performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, crafting characters that are as vulnerable as they can be headstrong. But the supporting cast shows up as well, with Billie Lourd's otherworldly Gigi and Skyler Gisondo's modern take on the Anthony Michael Hall role in plain and musical obsessed Jared shining particularly brightly.

The Blu-ray release is unfortunately not as exciting as the movie itself. It has your standard collection of deleted scenes and rather shallow featurettes. Luckily it boasts a commentary from director Olivia Wilde, who is as charming as expected. But even with that charm, I was left hoping that maybe Feldstein and Dever would show up to bring the same chemistry that they had on screen. Maybe I've been spoiled by the gift that is the film itself and I'm looking for more where there is no need for it. I just want to spend more time in this world crafted by Wilde, and the Blu-ray release is disappointingly not offering that. Luckily, the movie itself is still fantastic, even with a lackluster release. "Booksmart" is the best kind of high school comedy; overflowing with anxiety, humor, and an audacity that can only accompany the hubris of a seventeen-year-old.

"Booksmart"
Blu-ray + Digital HD
$19.96
https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/booksmart

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