Booksmart (2019)

OLIVIA WILDE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5USA, 2019, Screenplay by , , , Cinematography by Produced by , , , , Katie Silberman.  Music by Production Design by .   Costume Design by Film Editing by .

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: it’s the night before high school graduation, and two students have decided they’re gonna party all night, finally going after their school crush and enjoying their last youthful hurrah before the summer and college change their lives forever.  The thing about originality is, of course, that it does not exist, and a successful story is one that feels fresh even when it isn’t, which is what you have in this blissfully good comedy that gets all its elements right despite a plot that is ticking off boxes without offering the slightest apology for doing so.  and are superb as high school graduates who have spent their entire high school career working hard and getting amazing grades, and are now about to enjoy the rewards for having avoided after-school parties or socializing with their peers: Feldstein is going to Yale and Dever is spending the summer in Africa before heading to Columbia.  When Feldstein finds out that the party animals in her class are also attending prestigious post-secondary institutions (or, in one case, is going to work for Google) despite the fact that they didn’t spend the last four years with their nose in a book, she has a meltdown that results in her deciding to change her outlook on life.  One of their fellow students is throwing a huge party and Feldstein convinces Dever to go, but first they must endure a series of misadventures, which delightfully include a lonely student’s party on a boat, hiding in the car of a pizza delivery man and a very uncomfortable Lyft ride with their school principle () just to find the party’s location.  When they do finally locate the event, the fun continues as these plucky heroines are faced with the conundrum of running into the girl Dever likes and the guy Feldstein is in to, and their experiences with both challenge the iron-solid friendship that, up until this point, has been practically symbiotic.  There are too many funny sequences to remember, the best of them feature as an indescribably wacky character, but the magic comes from the two leads, who deliver their dialogue with a nerdy charm that, thanks to their magnificent chemistry, is actually quite glamorous.  Director Olivia Wilde shifts to directing from her already impressive acting career and, in only her first feature, shows expertise for keeping the laughs rolling and the energy high without ever wearing out either the film’s premise or the audience’s energy.

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