Starring Kaitlyn Dever. Rated 14A
You could call it Supergood. Anyway, that’s how best buds Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Lady Bird’s Beanie Feldstein, sister of Jonah Hill) view themselves on the eve of their graduation from a suburban–L.A. high school. They skipped the parties and romantic relationships, and stuck to their studies, studying their way into the best Ivy League schools. But it turns out that other kids did just as well while allowing time to let off adolescent steam.
Booksmart then finds the girls deciding to cram a senior year’s worth of debauchery into one night. Their plan is to unleash their inner cool at a wingding thrown by the jocks and social queens who normally avoid them. Molly is school president (there’s a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt by her bed) and has a secret hankering for her ne’er-do-well vice, the most popular kid on campus (Mason Gooding, son of Cuba). Amy’s into girls but has never acted on it, even though her liberal-Christian parents (Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte) are sure she’s more than a friend to Molly. Can a single night change everything?
This fun, fast-moving film is a directorial debut for Olivia Wilde, who helped polish a script kicking around for a decade—one written by four women, not to the detriment of its general cohesion and frequent hilarity. To buy into its charms, you have to accept that our heroes are nerds, but not such losers that they don’t have a foul-mouthed comeback in almost any situation. And you need to believe that the cool kids—as wealthy as any in John Hughes territory, if a tad more multiracial—are a lot sharper and more generous than they seem.
In other words, this is more a comic fantasia than a dissection of teen hierarchies à la Clueless or Mean Girls. It’s helped along by the occasional presence of Jessica Williams as an extra-hip teacher, Jason Sudeikis (Wilde’s real-life partner) as an Uber-driving principal, and Billie Lourd (daughter of Carrie Fisher) as a rich kid who keeps popping up in weird places. Her drugs are strong enough, as it happens, to literally turn our good girls into Barbie dolls. I’ve already said too much.