I don’t want to hear anymore whining. Especially from hypocrites. Could that hypocrite be you? Let’s see. Have you complained recently of Hollywood not having any original ideas for movies anymore? This weekend did you see either Aladdin, a live action remake of what is probably the far superior Disney Classic, or Brightburn, essentially just another superhero/villain origin story that rips off Man of Steel but just sprinkled with some horror elements? Did you see BOOKSMART this weekend or plan to see it while it is still in theaters? If any of your answers end with question #3 being yes, you are okay in my book. If you see remakes yet still go out and support and see original films, congrats, you aren’t a shit eating hypocrite. However…if your answers were, yes, yes, no…youuuuuuuuu can definitely go fuck yourself if you ever find yourself complaining about originality. And no, your answer to #3 cannot be, well, I’ll see it on video but not in theaters….FUUCCCCKKKK YOUUUUUUU.
Booksmart is not a just a rip off of Superbad but with girls, no matter how much it looks like it to you. Superbad, while I still love that movie to death, is a bit over-the-top with its situational comedy, and I will even admit that the script and story has some major problems midway through the film, with some pay offs feeling forced and not being set up very well. In fact, the movie almost grinds to a halt when our main characters end up at that weird redneck like adult party where one of them ends up putting alcohol in Tide Gallon jugs. The set up with that movie is that one guy wants to hook up with one girl, the other guy wants to hook up with a girl, and they think they can score if they bring alcohol to an underage party. Booksmart is so much more than that. Two girls about to graduate find out that while they stuck to the books and didn’t do much socializing, that the same people they thought were losers that socialized too much, are still going to the same colleges as they are. So the two set out to prove that they can be just a socially relevant in those inner circles, and get a little practice so they aren’t sticks in the mud with they eventually go to college.
These two girls are played by the wonderful Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein. Oddly enough Ms. Feldstein has a direct connection to Superbad herself, in that she’s Jonah Hill’s real life sister. Kaitlyn Dever has more of a filmography, and while you might know her for her weird loyalty to that awful Last Man Standing show starring Tim Allen, she has raised the roof in her roles on Justified, Detroit, Short Term 12, and Beautiful Boy. Their acting in this is what sets the movie apart from most teen comedies. Actually the acting in general feels more real than most. Booksmart has more than a dash of realism when it come to being compared against Superbad. You have zany characters in both, but in this for example, the motherfucking scene stealing son of a bitch Skyler Gisondo (the teenage love interest and best part of Santa Clarita Diet), while hamming it up in another memorable over-the-top role, has a few down to Earth moments that flesh out the entire movie. It isn’t like Superbad where the cops played by Bill Hader and Seth Rogen are all over-the-top and have absolutely no realistic substance as police officers, not even one little scene featuring a down to Earth moment.
All the ingredients for a great movie are right there, and fortunately for us, the one putting those ingredients together and serving us up an incredible dish is Olivia Wilde, in her directorial debut. Yes, THAT Olivia Wilde. The really really really really really really beautiful actress that has been in a TON of things (just look her up on IMDB), and as you probably know in her social life she is currently with and has kids with SNL alum Jason Sudeikis (who has a small yet, hilarious role in two scenes). What could’ve been just another point and shoot kind of affair, is completely elevated by Olivia Wilde’s stylistic choices and her unique eye for the camera. Her narrative construction for each scene is incredible. For example, there is a point where Kaitlyn Dever’s character swims under the surface of a pool to catch up to her possible love interest in the movie, and the way everything is framed and the music selection tells it’s own unique story in those 20 to 30 seconds that most directors wouldn’t think to do. Also, at one point the two friends are fighting and instead of them just arguing back and forth in a steady shot, Wilde uses the camera to go in and out of each opposing argument and even at one point cuts their argument off with music to play up another dramatic element in their year long friendship. It’s quite exhilarating to see a seasoned actor/actress knock it out of the park stylistically with their directorial debut.
However, on the flip side, it’s infuriating when something as good as this movie gets all the praise, yet gets none of the money it so rightly deserves. Especially when you look at other seasoned actor/actress directorial debuts getting all the money, AND getting all the award attention…for a fucking remake. One that had absolutely no unique eye or any unique narrative choices. I won’t name the movie, but it rhymes with A Scar Is Corn. The director, rhymes with Fadley Pooper, didn’t do anything behind the camera to elevate the material. Anyone could’ve made it. AND THAT IS A BELOVED AWARD CONTENDER?!? Please. Anyway, this movie flows through point A to point B to point C, introducing us to characters (including a fun and zany role played by the late Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourde) and situations that have great payoffs throughout the entire run time, not just the end. The two leads are focusing on getting to a specific party, but the detours along the away actually make sense and aren’t random due to forced narrative sake.
Anyway, Booksmart is the film you should’ve seen this weekend, not Bad Superman or The Fresh Prince Of ‘Woke; Agrabah. I hope for your sake that you discover it on your own in the next couple of weeks if you can. It is more charming than laugh out loud hilarious like Superbad was, but the several big laughs you get in this, are well earned and will have you laughing for minutes after the joke is already over. And it’s a comedy that has some emotional weight, that actually makes you feel for the characters due to its subjective realism, not telling you to shed a tear because Jonah Hill and Michael Cera happen to have a weird tender moment that wasn’t really earned in the first 2/3rds of the film. Booksmart is script-smart and director-smart, which is what we should be getting nowadays from Hollywood, not the same lame brain live action regurgitated Disney shit.