Booksmart is an intelligent and funny mashup whose ROFL parts don’t necessarily add up to a must see movie night. And even though my job as a high school film teacher was on my mind entering the movie (with the end of the school year upon me, as in the film). And even though the film is ostensibly about high school, it nevertheless did help me laugh. So if you want to kind of get away for a while and have a few good laughs I would recommend this film to you. But if you are looking for a solid all around film on the par of a Lady Bird or Eighth Grade, Booksmart isn’t going to cut it for you.
As a mashup, Booksmart incorporates the awkward feeling of Eighth Grade, almost like a sequel but without the sense of predestined gloomy finality. It’s not the funniest thing you’ve ever seen (The 40 -Year-Old Virgin) or the most exploitive (Assassination Nation) or even one of the funniest things (Office Christmas Party). But like Long Shot, it certainly has its moments. There is also a feeling here reminiscent of the classic Scorsese comedy After Hours and Blockers with the primary action taking place over the course of one twisting crazy night.
Many of the characters in Booksmart do seem familiar in spite of their one dimensionality. And the film does to its credit try to go into a little more depth with some of the characters. There is also a shout out to Gilmore Girls, which is apropos. If you’ve ever seen His Girl Friday or any screwball comedy, the lines come fast and furious, the banter withering, the re parteeing. So it’s unrealistic in that sense but some will find the style engaging. There are also just absurd moments that I loved like having fencers in the background of a scene in the high school courtyard. But this is followed up with grounded conversations about real world dilemmas. Falling off the edge of high school, like The Graduate. As I mentioned in my Eighth Grade review, it’s not easy being a kid and that certainly comes through in Booksmart as well. I found that though the film pulled from many sources and familiar storylines it also seemed to create an original synthesis. The pool scene and airport scenes were beautifually shot, the graduation scene, reminiscent of Stripes was also well done.
There are some great cameos here by Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte. But I think the film is stolen by the eccentric and totally out there frenemy Billie Lourd as Gigi.
Booksmart certainly hit the 6 dollar Thursday bar, kept me laughing and thinking and covered some original cinematic ground with a strong mashup style. Do I think that you could also happily wait for it to stream on your favorite platform. Yes, I do.