Booksmart should be the biggest movie in the world.
I defy you to offer up a film that’s as funny, charming, ebullient, confident, and crass as Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. And I'll double down and defy you to assemble a more thrillingly insular, instantly recognizable duo as Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein). Tally up all the wins at work in this movie, you've got yourself a deserving blockbuster. But when you connect all those wins to women, it's hard not to draw conclusions as to why Booksmart hasn't hauled in a bajillion dollars.
The heroes of Booksmart are inseparable, perspicacious besties who’ve spent high school doing everything ‘right,’ only to clue in on the last day of classes that they’ve had it all wrong. They've got one night to make up for all that lost time and find the one party that will satisfy the prerequisites they only just realized they required for graduation. The only problem? They don't know where the cool kids live. (As someone who didn't go to parties in high school and couldn't have found one of the popular kids' house if my life depended on it, I find this very relatable.)
The movie travels well-trodden teen movie territory, but the walk has never felt so scenic. But in the place of the usual horny boys who must perform some reverse Sword in the Stone feat to prove their worthiness, we've got two young women who already excel at being themselves, particularly around each other, and are ultimately out to test the worth of who they are on a social scene they've always eschewed. Booksmart isn't about becoming different, but about becoming more yourself.
Forget comparisons to male-driven pubertal buddy comedies. (If you must compare, swap in Ladybird.) Booksmart, which features as rich and nuanced a female friendship as you’re likely to see in a ‘mainstream’ comedy, is a class above the rest. The moment you meet Amy and Molly, you love them as much as they love themselves and each other. You want to see them succeed and expand their horizons the same way that they, maybe at the risk of their established insularity, want to see each other succeed.
There's no excuse to miss out on this party. You know the address. And the fact that the rest of the world hasn’t caught on to how good this movie is, frankly, the rest of the world’s problem.