The high school comedy genre is sometimes ridiculed as fluff with no significant half-life, but it regularly produces wonderful gems. Whether Olivia Wilde with her directorial debut BOOKSMART (2019) We reveal in our review that it has delivered such a result.
Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte play Amy’s very caring and understanding parents
The plot summary
Best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are amazed: Shortly before graduating from high school, the ambitious students, who have already been accepted by renowned universities and have concrete plans for the future, learn that their many years of diligent learning have apparently been in vain . Because some classmates who have been partying all the time reveal that they will also be going to elite universities. One day before the closing ceremony, Amy and Molly decide to make up for the years of missed celebrations and neglected social contacts. With a wild, exuberant, epic party night. But as Amy and Molly pursue the wild side of high school life, the previously suppressed conflicts between them come to the surface for the first time…
Booksmart Movie Meaning & ending
Some people don’t see it, others don’t want to see it: women continue to be massively disadvantaged in countless areas of life. This may not always be done with bad intentions, but discrimination due to underrepresentation also has consequences. For centuries, the art and media discourse was primarily shaped by men, and especially by men who were often of similar character and socio-demographic roots. This is accompanied by an overrepresentation of certain preferences and perspectives on artistic forms, media content and (everyday) political statements. This is still expressed today in even seemingly insignificant things like the German Wikipedia: At the time this review was written, the German Wikipedia noted in the article on “Booksmart” that Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut had received very positive press response.
However, the reviews selected as examples and quoted in more detail are consistently cautious and draw a critical consensus according to which the film is too nice and too forgiving, has nothing to offer in feminist terms, needs more insults and conflicts and whose queer elements are purely cosmetic. Now we don’t want to dispute the opinion of the two colleagues quoted on Wikipedia and the colleague also quoted – they are welcome to look at the film that way, even if I see it completely differently. But on Wikipedia, whose membership consists overwhelmingly of straight men who are significantly older than the core target group of “Booksmart”, these three reviews are highlighted, especially for a film that this participatory lexicon confirms has had a very positive press response , clearly demonstrates what happens when a subgroup of society has sole control over cultural exchange. The remaining perspectives are not necessarily denied, but they are lost.
Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) vow to let it rip
This insight can easily be transferred from the discourse about film art to film art itself: the subgenre of high school comedy, like cinema in general, was dominated by male voices for decades. There is nothing to be said against these creative voices on their own. They have given us such timeless jokes as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Out” or the entertaining and lively Shakespeare interpretation “10 Things I Hate About You”, but also such messed up comedies as “Hot Chick”. That’s the nature of things – not everything can succeed. But no matter how many good, how many misunderstood and how many failed high school comedies male directors have created, about half of the young people (and the young-at-heart film fans who continue to consume teen comedies) are not male and therefore most likely have had different school experiences than this one Directors. Of course, male directors have already managed to create a film that also speaks from the hearts of schoolgirls. Nevertheless, it is simply unfair that students have received mountains of great comedies that speak directly to their wealth of experience, while female students have not. In short: There are far too few films like “Booksmart” so far. But while we wait for more high school comedies of this ilk, we can fortunately enjoy this hilarious, clever and touching production from Annapurna Pictures and Gloria Sanchez Productions (the company of producing duo Will Ferrell & Adam McKay).
So the criticism that “Booksmart” is too nice is a really strange one – at no point during the viewing pleasure that this fun-loving, clever comedy exudes did I have the thought: “Man, this would all be so much better if there There would be more drama and suffering in it!” Will colleagues who find “Booksmart” too harmless also be offended by “Ferris Makes You Blue,” in which the anarchic, mischief-making title character seems to live in a world without consequences? Not every film has to be about suffering and misery in a state-supporting way – even high school comedies, i.e. films about a phase of life in which joy and anger are in extreme overdrive, can primarily radiate a good mood – regardless of whether they are about a trickster who has had a hard time or about an industrious young lesbian and her no less ambitious best friend. What’s more: It’s not just that films about LGBTQ characters can be “harmless”. It is even urgently necessary that more and more films about non-heteronormative protagonists radiate a positive basic tone – no matter how many of my colleagues demand drama and criticize films like “Booksmart” as unrealistic if openly homosexual characters are not included become the target of incessant bullying.
Last day of school: Nick (Mason Gooding), Triple A (Molly Gordon) and Tanner (Nico Hiraga) know how to party
Because people like Amy, played by Kaitlyn Dever, can almost bathe in vulnerable, worried, frightened representation. Queer cinema is full of coming-out stories that explore prejudice, social scorn, and painful banter. Such films are of course also important because, unfortunately, we still live in a world in which such things are part of the queer life experience. But as long as queer representation is only associated with this or with portraying the funny friends of heterosexual heroines and heroes, we will not be able to overcome these sufferings depicted in numerous films. Normalization is the magic word: If white, chaos-causing straight boys get films that put their worries and fears in the foreground as well as funnier, more light-hearted wish-fulfillment films, then the Amys of this world should also be granted the same. The wonderful young adult book adaptation “Love, Simon” was an important, first big step in this regard – it was the first mainstream teen comedy about an openly gay main character. And although this touches on the pitfalls and pain of coming out, the basic narrative structure of “Love, Simon” is deliberately based on everyday life in high school romantic comedies. “Booksmart” is, so to speak, the logical next step in the evolution of the more representative high school cinema. Amy came out before the film even started, her sexuality is undeniably part of the film, but it is not the subject of the film.
Amy is respected for her sexual identity at her school (a kind of premium high school in a liberal US state) and any coming-out hurdles are already behind her. A key plot thread of “Booksmart” instead revolves around how Amy decides to finally flirt with her crush on her first night of partying, and this element is impossible to remove from Olivia Wilde’s enjoyment of the film, as are the multitude of exemplary, easy-going conversations between Amy and Molly about female pleasure in general and lesbian sexual practices in particular. And then there are, among other things, the endearing, haphazard dialogue passages about Amy’s parents, who believe that Molly is their daughter’s secret partner, who has not yet come out. Director Olivia Wilde and the screenplay quartet Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman are progressive and political, without clunkily formulating progressive messages in their dialogues or clumsily pushing their politics into the foreground and thus in the way of what is generally understandable and identifiable and entertaining hustle and bustle of their characters. Instead, their values permeate this material, which is about friendship goals, overcoming shyness and the discrepancy between party life and learning life. In doing so, he radiates an unmistakable, winning message of acceptance while normalizing it and inviting the audience on a wild journey through multiple parties and self-discovery – regardless of whether you share the gender and sexual orientation of one of the main characters or not.
Anyone who finally experiences representation through Amy can enjoy the way this wide-awake, well-read teenager, despite her bourgeois, nerdy uptightness, is able to have unhindered experiences on the screen that she hasn’t had in the cinema (and unfortunately in many parts of the country). was allowed to do. And if you’re not like Amy, you just empathetically enjoy her and Molly’s messed up party experiences – Kaitlyn Dever (“Short Term 12”) and Beanie Feldstein (“Bad Neighbors 2”) They are glowing with enthusiasm and know how to play the script, bursting with verbal bon mots, dialogue-fueled situational comedy and witty eloquence, in a fun but quasi-natural way. That means: Their characters Amy and Molly are larger than life in terms of quick-wittedness and verbal ingenuity, but Dever and Feldstein don’t constantly emphasize a punch line, but rather casually shake the dialogue joke out of their sleeves – I had a happy grin almost throughout “Booksmart”. in the face, simply because I was happy for these clever, clever characters, that they can live their cinematic lives the way they want to live it (or how they emotionally believe they want to live it). No moral appeal slows down the viewing pleasure, no misery of coming out prevents the queer audience from finally being able to watch a sardonic high school comedy with heart in the way that straight people have always been able to watch it. Almost. In another respect, too, “Booksmart” is the step that should follow “Love, Simon”: As amiable and warm-hearted as “Love, Simon” is, it is also (intentionally) true to the formula. “Booksmart,” on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the high school comedy tradition – and yet it goes in new directions.
We have emotionally inflated characters in the style of John Hughes, who, like Olivia Wilde, understood that for many people puberty is the funniest and most painful time of life, even if the torture sometimes just means “My best friend doesn’t get it right now “what I want to say to her”. We have the “We have to have a big party before we go to college” drive from “Superbad” – albeit under completely different circumstances. We’ve had the “what do I do next and how do I get my crush in my arms now” worries from…dozens of movies. And yet “Booksmart” is less formulaic than “Love, Simon”. Wilde mixes her inspirations more freshly; she leaves behind John Hughes cliques as well as the style in which he and many filmmakers who imitated him tackle more dramatic scenes. Wilde and her cinematographer Jason McCormick replace the candy colors of many high school comedies with more natural, harsh lighting accompanied by a more freely moving camera. The camera in “Booksmart” is never even remotely as rough and wildly moving as in “Assassination Nation ,” but Wilde’s film has also arrived in the age of cell phone cameras and carefully adapts its cinematographic language to the viewing habits of its core target group, instead of “Assassination Nation”esque, brutal violence.
Is it crackling there? Jared (Skyler Gisondo) and Molly.
And the content of the dialogues in “Booksmart” also opens a new chapter in the high school comedy. Because in these films sex is usually something almost mysterious, mystical, which is just outside the world of our protagonists, or sex is loud, flashy, vulgar and at the same time the only major meaning of life and a gigantic laughing stock. There are exceptions like “The DUFF”, but even in them sex is more silly and glorified than everyday. In “Booksmart,” on the other hand, sex is neither forbidden, nor dirty, nor the holy grail that all young people are looking forward to: it is a normal part of their lives – but one in which they still have a lot of experience to gain, which results in some awkwardness and gaps in knowledge uttered, which Wilde prefers to explore empathetically rather than constantly treating it as a stupid gag. It’s a modern, long-overdue way to explore sexual desire and sexual acts in high school comedies. In times of early, drastic self-enlightenment through internet pornography, the times of disgusting, vulgar comedy surrounding sex are gradually coming to an end – gags of the nature “Haha, yuck, penis!” or “ROFL, bodily functions!” simply no longer resonate with modern teen audiences. The more relaxed, yet at times perplexed perspective of Amy and Molly is simply more realistic today – and it is still very humorous, as there are always surprisingly funny gaps between their sexual knowledge from books and their sexual life experience. Just as Molly’s very supportive but also overzealous way of expressing understanding to her lesbian friend and Amy’s complex, contradictory view of sex provide small, subtle laughs – because while she can talk about some things almost callously and openly, she is in In other aspects he is still childish, intimidated and awkward.
Wilde still uses a friendly, supportive tone throughout, which some, mostly male, colleagues apparently see as discouragement. But it’s easy as a guy to see a benevolent teen comedy and say, “Where’s the drama and the pain here?” A film has to offer me something, I need excitement!” The Amys and Mollys of this world, on the other hand, who either don’t exist in teen cinema or are in most cases the target of scorn and ridicule, are unlikely to watch “Booksmart” and longing for depictions of mass bullying and elaborate pranks to which the main characters fall victim. The fact that we mostly just laugh with these characters or, in the case of the trace elements, in which their outsiderness is portrayed, don’t resort to the cheapest, stupid gags, is just so refreshing and enjoyable. So Molly overhears a conversation in the school toilet, as schoolmates play the popular game “Fuck, Marry, Kill” and someone judges Molly in a less than flattering way. So many films would have given this character an oh-so-funny (read: overly hurtful, but cinematically treated as a gag) speech about disgusting fatness. In “Booksmart,” on the other hand, this character explains that Molly is cute, but her nerdy, constantly serious character is a mood killer. So Wilde and her team of writers achieve the same effect – we and Molly see how respected she is at her school – but we don’t unnecessarily trample on superficialities. And because these and similar scenes don’t take the most obvious route, they are surprising and therefore amusing.
“Booksmart” wisely avoids giving its heroines absolution. Amy and Molly also make mistakes: they may be liberal and enlightened, but they still allow themselves to make hasty judgments about their classmates. To address a classmate with a nickname she doesn’t like. Or to judge someone solely based on their demeanor in the schoolyard. These double standards of Amy and Molly are gradually revealed as such, mostly in illuminating, pointed scenes, which means that “Booksmart” maintains its cheerful, friendly and yet immoralizing tone – and when misjudgments are cleared up more dramatically, then the ensemble and a restrained imagery manage to do so , to present it only as a short, tender, humane moment between acquaintances, rather than as an instructive twist with doubly underlined seriousness.
School’s Out: Tanner (Nico Hiraga) doesn’t just have a blast at graduation.
In general, the cast is wonderful, whether in the central or secondary roles. Dever and Feldstein practically live the friendship of their characters, they sell the well-established (and sometimes well-worn) dynamic of Amy and Molly, so that their insider gags never seem forced and their underlying, simmering disagreement about who is clinging or who wants too much distance is believable and gradually comes to light – and not like the argument that is often staged in such films. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast masters the difficult balancing act that we initially get to know as the exaggerated caricatures that Molly and Amy think the rest of their school are, but then we repeatedly recognize unexpected depths. This character-based “double life” never seems laborious or far-fetched, which is thanks on the one hand to the clever script, but also to the performances, in which, in retrospect, the depths that were later noticed can also be seen in earlier scenes.
Skyler Gisondo (“Vacation – We are the Griswolds”) plays the nouveau riche, exaggeratedly stylish Jared in his few, great scenes, similar to Reza Brojerdi’s Musti in “Abikalypse” , who plays as a clumsy, boastful, warm-hearted but harmless rich man, who wants to show his wealth, at least had the advantage of being the main character of the film and of illuminating its facets in more detail. Billie Lourd (“Star Wars – The Last Jedi”), meanwhile, is a real scene stealer: As if her Gigi were the raucous, constantly drugged sister of the shrill drama queen Sharpay from the “High School Musical” films, she steals with dry comic portrayal of a lurid lunatic puts the spotlight on everyone who shares a scene with her – and it’s simply delicious. Molly Gordon as the “school bitch” who has nothing at all in common with her film predecessors and Diana Silvers as the cynical, always elbowing Hope also effortlessly combine their caricatured and humanized sides. And the adults in “Booksmart” (played by Wilde’s husband Jason Sudeikis and Jessica Williams, among others) also know how to combine silly gags, enjoyable, irrelevant punchlines and more relaxed nuances.
Extravagant free spirit and experienced party girl Gigi (Billie Lourd).
The characters in “Booksmart” not only function on their own, the interaction between the various school social structures is also completely plausible – even if “Booksmart” is set in an exaggerated world with a very wealthy and extremely permanently committed theater group and a strangely acting police force plays, the sketch of Generation Z that draws “Booksmart” is close to the pulse of the times. In a planned sequence that gives you goosebumps, Wilde uses the creeping appearance of drawn cell phones filming in the blurred background of the picture as a visual signal that a difference of opinion is becoming bitter, dangerously serious. And yet Wilde resists the temptation to turn “Booksmart” into a lesson about the specific dangers of social media—that would be forced in this film, since its narrative and emotional emphasis lies elsewhere. The defusing solution in “Booksmart” follows a few minutes later on a clever path that nevertheless respects the dramatic momentum previously achieved. Following this, Wilde finds a very entertaining, yet heartfelt and thoughtful conclusion to her musically contemporary pressured “party poopers throw themselves into a wild night of partying out of spite” comedy, thereby asserting its status as an unpretentious paean to (female) friendships and The “We finally have to assert ourselves, but we also want to have escapism” spirit of Generation Z truly deserves it. Even if the majority of Wikipedia editors will find this difficult to understand.
Conclusion: “Booksmart” is a refreshing, modern high school and coming-of-age comedy with lovable characters, lots of dialogue humor and a contemporary, positive world view, which is conveyed through a briskly told, warm and honest story.
“Booksmart” can be seen in USA cinemas from November 14th.