Every decade gets a teen film to call their own; a movie that most accurately reflects the social strata, sexual politics and humour of the time. The 80s got The Breakfast Club, the 90s got American Pie and the 2000s got Superbad. For her directorial debut, Olivia Wilde has created something very impressive indeed – arguably the quintessential teen flick for millennials. Booksmart is a hilarious and intelligent romp through a teenage landscape that has changed so much in the last decade that it takes somebody with real empathy and understanding to portray it right.
That’s not to say that the feature is blindingly original. The film’s plot walks a well-trodden path. It’s the last day of school. Two nerdy best friends, the shy Amy and controlling Molly, realise that they studied too hard and decide to make up for it in a single night. Predictably, shenanigans ensue. There are drugs. There are boys. There is heartbreak. But at the core of it, there is friendship.
Wilde isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or say anything particularly new about teens. She just wants the current generation of adolescents to have a movie that represents them. It’s in this way, in the smaller moments, that the picture is truly subversive. With an accurate portrayal of social media and a range of non-binary and sexually ambiguous characters, the feature depicts the modern teenage audience without forcing a message; it just is.
For all that is great – and there is plenty – the film can still lean too heavily on its influences. Yet, elevating this from a good piece of cinema to great one are the two leads. The chemistry between Beanie and Amy feels absolutely real and watching them express their love for each other is probably the most enjoyable part of the movie. Whereas other teen flicks revel in crude put-downs, this feature manages to find humour in positivity and affection, making for a surprisingly fresh and wholesome experience.
So, is it a perfect film? Not by any means. But neither are Superbad or The Breakfast Club. Like those iconic movies, however, Booksmart is honest, laugh-out-loud funny and a heart-warming homage to a time when friends are the most important people in your life.
Oh, and the soundtrack is banging.
Booksmart is released nationwide on 27th May 2019.
Watch the trailer for Booksmart here: