Film Review: BOOKSMART (USA 2019) ***** Top 10

Booksmart Poster

On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.


Olivia Wilde


Susanna FogelEmily Halpern 

BOOKSMART is a high school teen comedy centring on two female best friends about to graduate high school and enter college.  Before one dismisses this film as a crass no-brainer, a closer look should be taken at BOOKSMART as it proves it to be perhaps the sleeper of 2019.

Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are two high school seniors who have been best friends since childhood and are considered by their peers as academic.  They are however, rather pretentious and lame – particularly Molly.  Amy has been out for two years and has a crush on a girl named Ryan, whom Molly urges Amy to attempt to forge a relationship with before they graduate.   The film is about partying.  And then it gets serious while not losing the comedy.  For Molly and Amy, it is all about getting into the best colleges.  They have both studied hard and managed to get into the best college.  When they discover that their classmates also enter colleges like Stanford and Harvard but have spent their time partying instead of studying like them, they freak out and decide to do one big unforgettable party before they graduate the next day.  The big task to find that big party.  While they venture the night, the unexpected happens.

BOOKSMART is fortunate to have as it two lead performers two exceptionally talented, yet to be discovered new actresses.  Their comic talent can first be witnessed in the film’s first key scene where they meet in the morning, doing their rap movies before going school – one of the film’s most hilarious scenes that seem unmatched.  The funniest one is arguably the one with Amy’s toy Panda, Ling Ling.  So good they are, that they cannot be competed even by the likes of veterans like Lisa Kudrow and Jason Sudeikis.  

The film benefits from the skilful comedic writing team of Emily Halpern, Sarah Hskins, Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman.  Besides being hilariously funny with laugh out loud moments throughout the entire film, the film covers current key issues like coming out in high school, bullying, coming-of-age, stereotypes, doing good in third world countries like Africa and high school education.  The film proudly demonstrates how cool it is to be gay – a positive image that teens who go see this film will appreciate.  

The impressive soundtrack comprises a variety of music from rap to alternative.  Music is by Dan the Alternator.  The comedic set-ups are inventive working well in line with the main plot.  The best one is the high school hall scene where the two friends enter school amidst all the joy and cheer of the second last day of school, that scene ending with a condom of water bursting on Molly’s face.  But watch out for Molly’s high school graduation speech, one of the film’s prized moments.

BOOKSMART does for high school what NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE did for college while adding in the buddy factor as in MICHELLE AND ROMY’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.  BOOKSMART is silly and smart at the same time.  Everyone in the filmmaking team knows humour and how to be funny.  It is not surprising that the film’s executive producers are Will Farrell and Adam McKay.  The film moves so fastened furious that the film demands second viewing to get all the jokes.  Olivia Wilde’s BOOKSMART is nothing short of brilliant and the first film on my Top 10 list of 2019.