There are a lot of things that teachers and adults don't tell teenagers before they set out into the world. One of those things is that what happens in high school rarely every carries over to college or anything at all. Is the popular girl the president of ASB? Did someone play catcher on the baseball team and was a star hitter? Was a guy a class clown who also happened to be a good singer in drama? These people can still go on to do amazing things, but once they receive their diplomas at graduation, their social record is wiped clean.
And yet, we still tell kids that the "experience" of high school is just as important. Is it really? It's only four years in ones lifetime that wont matter if they've found something better to do. This is also a reason a lot of kids goof off in class; they know their childhood is coming to an end and that whatever trouble they cause is unlikely to hurt them as adults. That's not say there aren’t consequences, but I still believe that a little rule breaking is okay as long as no one is hurt and doesn't go too far. Two girls experience this in Booksmart.
On their last day of school, two best friends, Amy (played by Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (played by Beanie Feldstien) contemplate their roles as star academics and leaders of their clubs while everyone else goes wild with pranks and goofs. They see themselves as succeeding while thinking everyone is wasting their opportunity. It's not until Molly overhears some kids who she assumed would fail are going to big schools and even getting jobs at Google. That's when she understands that everyone worked just as hard as they did, only for them to have more fun then they did.
Not wanting to go out as cold and uncool, Molly convinces Amy to try and find a party at a popular kid's place in order to show they can have fun too. Molly also convinces Amy, and out lesbian, that this is her chance to connect with a girl she likes Ryan. What starts with an easy goal turns difficult as they come across weird kids, other strange parties, creepy pizza men, and phones going dead. It's the craziest night the two are ever going to have, but there's also change on the horizons for their friendship.
Booksmartsounds like a girl version of Superbad…and that's what it is. It's another shenanigans-style comedy that wants to prove that girls can be just as raunchy as the boys. The good news is that they do have a lot of setups for jokes. The problem is that I didn't laugh as much as I wanted to. For example, the girls go to the wrong party that turns out to be a murder mystery dinner. They could have taken advantage of the goofiness and other actor friends, but they take a drug trip instead. It gets a laugh, but why couldn't they have done both.
It's not that the actors are trying. In fact, I really like both Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstien (who you may remember as the best friend in Ladybird). They have the chops to land a couple of jokes that I did laugh at. Their at their best when their conversations lead into funny subjects. I think where the script fails is giving that joking plot better pacing. There are moments that I liked, but then things slow down and I start to drift away until the movie figures out the next step.
Before anything, I want to also talk about the Kaitlyn's character. I admire the movie for already having her out of the closet and making her like any other high school girl. I even like her goal…which is the same as a lot of other high school comedies. Even when a twist happens, it's a twist that's also been done in a lot of comedies and romance. I can see a lot of people seeing this as new and inspired just because the character is gay. In my mind, no matter what sexuality a character is, I still wish that they try for something more original.
I'll give this three school textbooks out of five. It's not perfect and falls into a lot of cliché territory, but I can see people laughing at this. In a way, while I wouldn't recommend this for myself, I can see a lot of kids and even adults finding this fine. I wouldn't call this revolutionary, but a serviceable enough comedy that it'll generate some laughs.