“Booksmart” lives up to its title

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Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart

High school can be the best of times or vice versa. It is a time where people start to find their identity as well as planning for another chapter of life. The high school spirit has been captured in so many movies like “Mean Girls,” “High School Musical,” and “The Breakfast Club” just to name a few. Moving forward a few decades, 2018’s “Love, Simon” continues the love training, putting audience in the shoes of a gay high schooler. This year, “Booksmart” brings to the table teenage angst through a pair of best friends, who are trying to find their place.

“Booksmart” is a story of two high school bright bookworms, Amy (played by Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein,) trying to navigate their way through high school. After hearing that a graduation party has been planned, they decide to attend to experience the high school vibe that they missed out on and in order to show people their “fun side.” To add to the mix, Amy and Molly both have their own romantic interests and are on the mission to find love.

If there is one word to describe this movie, it would be “youthful.” The beauty of teenagehood is painted in a simple yet uplifting way. However, one perk that “Booksmart” possesses is the maturity. It does not shy away from the realistic vulgar teenage talk. One might think that this is done for shock value, but it comes off as authentic. Both Dever and Feldstein put on incredible performances, and the chemistry between Amy and Molly drives this coming-of-age story well. The choice of making the character of Amy, a lesbian, offers a new perspective to audience members who are tired of the same old motifs.

Annapurna / Courtesy Photo
Beanie Feldstein as Molly (left) and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy.

While the movie is charming, the trailer can mislead the audience into thinking that this is a laugh-out-loud comedy. The movie definitely has quite a lot of humor, but a large portion of it is in the first half. The rest is more dedicated to the hormonal interactions of high schoolers and character progressions. It is a great quality, though it can drag on for people who are simply looking for laughs. When viewed under a comedic lense, “Booksmart” might not be satisfying, but when looked at as a film, it works wonders.

The movie is “R-rated,” which means this is no “High School Musical.” The humor can be viewed as offensive, and some of the ways teenage affection is depicted may make people uncomfortable. It is important that viewers go into this movie knowing that for the most part, it does not pull any punches to preserve authenticity. When “Booksmart” needs to get graphic, it does.

When it comes to flaws, there are a few minor ones. In some scenes, the references of teen lingos and memes can easily conveys that an adult is obviously writing the script. Also, near the end, there is a plot point that can scream “too convenient” to viewers. It sticks out, especially when most of the film feels so real.

To sum up, “Booksmart” is a teenage polaroid. Adult viewers can watch this movie and reminisce memories of a younger time, while the younger viewers can identify with the story. It does not try to be a masterpiece, and yet, it succeeds in many ways.