Grab your copy of Superbad and buckle up for the comedic joyride that is Booksmart, a film deeply indebted to its raunchy predecessor yet one that manages to improve on its “one wild night” premise and soulful, honest teen relationships in nearly every conceivable manner.
Told via ADHD-friendly storytelling, the saga of LA high school seniors Molly (Beanie “Jonah Hill’s Sister” Feldstein, Lady Bird) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, Detroit) is sparked by a graduation-eve revelation that reframes the bookworms’ perspectives on life and inspires them to atone for their lack of partying with a single epic evening.
In her feature directorial debut, Olivia Wilde and her all-female screenwriting team wisely choose to pack each scene with a killer soundtrack and a series of humorous exchanges — occasionally to a tiring degree, but the effect is far preferable to becoming exhausted from the opposite approach.
As the friends’ journey is aided and hindered by gleefully cartoonish yet wholly relatable peers and adults, even the cliché relationship beats are handled in creative ways with the “requisite” big argument playing out with the dialogue muted, allowing the physical acting and lip movements to provide sufficient intel.
Unapologetically frank and real, Booksmart is a delight from start to finish and is neck-and-neck with Long Shot as the year’s best comedy thus far.
Grade: A-minus. Rated R. Now playing at Biltmore Grande, Carolina Cinemark, and Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Annapurna Pictures)