By Annie Mitchell,
Imagine a stereotypical rebel high school student. They get wasted on the weekends, have sex at parties and goof off in the hallways for attention.
Now imagine that this student comes home to a Harvard acceptance letter.
Olivia Wilde introduces the idea of a fun-loving yet accomplished student in her debut film “Booksmart,” which skillfully combines multi-dimensional characters and outrageous humor into a powerful rejection of first impressions.
The story follows Molly (Beanie Feldstein), who is the Yale-bound student president of her high school, and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), who plans to go to Columbia University. Fueled by their egos and intellect, the best friends look down on the partiers and class clowns from their stacks of SAT prep books and heavy resumes.
But on the last day of school, Molly discovers that her classmate, known as “Triple A” from her intimate roadside activities with boys, will join her at Yale in the fall. Aghast that the wild students have also been good ones, Molly convinces Amy to join her on a Ferris Bueller-esque expedition to crash a party before high school slips away.
As the night unfolds in a chaotic medley of drugs, crazy friends and strange pizza delivery men, the girls and their partying counterparts unveil their true selves to each other.
Molly’s encounters with the eager-to-please rich kid Jared (Skyler Gisondo) and her incompetent yet easy-going vice president (Mason Gooding) help her become conscious of her controlling personality. Meanwhile, the openly lesbian Amy explores her sexuality as she parties.
Co-produced by Will Ferrell, it is not surprising that “Booksmart” is inappropriately hilarious. The audience cries tears of mirth and horror when the girls watch porn to educate themselves on the way to the party and the Lyft driver graciously connects Molly’s phone to the aux cable.
The audience feels the full force of Molly’s and Amy’s uproarious shenanigans with a soundtrack that makes you want to slip on your Ray-Ban shades and strut down the street.
Artists such as Lizzo, CeeLo Green and DJ Shadow provide the songs that give the film its confident and over-the-top feel. The music blasts empowerment and self-acceptance, which Molly, Amy and even “Triple A” search for during the night.
Wilde presents an alternative view of a stereotypical high school experience with characters that amaze and entertain. To witness the magic born from embracing those with different personalities– and to learn how to maximize your high school experience– go laugh your butt off at “Booksmart.”