COMEDY; 1hr 42min
STARRING: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein
Sweet spot: Feldstein (left) and Dever
There’s book-smart, then there’s life-smart. BFFs Amy and Molly (Dever and Feldstein) have nailed the first ask. Now, the night before their high-school graduation, they’re playing catch-up with the second after Molly’s last-minute realisation in the grungy school loo that—whoa!—it’s actually possible to party and to pull great grades.
If only life-smart were simple! As brainiac babes in the proverbial wood, like the Beastie Boys way back when, from their first base to their morning after, the girls have to fight for their partying right. What to wear, where to go, how to get there and what drugs not to take while playing at cool are just for openers. There are friendship-testing crushes for the two bluestockings to contend with, too: Amy is sweet on Ryan (Victoria Ruesga), Molly has the hots for Nick (Mason Gooding). For a minute, it looks as though their pipe dreams could come true for the smartest yet most clueless girls in the room. That is, until reality crashes the guest list.
Directing her first feature, actress Olivia Wilde (Her) has her adrenalized dynamic down to a fine art. Booksmart isn’t all adolescent fun and games, however, tapping deep as it does into that specific moment of departure when one life is about to give way to another. Dever and Feldstein make the transition snappy and fresh, while never losing sight of the poignancy that can underpin an ending. Their girls’ night has myriad gonzo moments (a stoned sequence that sees them re-imagined as walking-talking dolls would have Hunter S. Thompson cheering them on from the Great Beyond). But keeping the crazy fundamentally real is the smartest move Wilde and her sparky cast have made.