Booksmart Proves People Are Entirely Unpredictable, A Refreshing Take On Teen Reality
By Isabelle Snyder
Teen movies are all about relatability. Some miss the mark by a wide margin, either by trying too hard to incorporate as many fads as possible, or by over-exaggerating aspects of teen life. Even so, there are a few flicks that manage to exercise just the right amount of trendiness and authenticity.
“Booksmart” is one of the good ones. The movie’s director, Olivia Wilde, nailed every aspect of the film. From the characters, to the dialogue, to the soundtrack, it was a refreshing and riveting interpretation of the teen experience. The movie was surprisingly relatable—sometimes in the most ridiculous ways. But it has pretty much everything: straight (ha) up disastrous conversations with people you like? Check. That one chaotic-chaotic friend? Check. Relative silence regarding college prospects or decisions due to potentially crippling insecurity? Check. Big FOMO? Big mood.
The presence of LGBTQ+ characters on the big screen is becoming more and more common. In recent years, many of the movies involving LGBTQ+ characters are categorized as teen/coming-of-age movies, including films such as Love, Simon, Princess Cyd, and The Way He Looks. “Booksmart” joins their ranks and one of its LGBTQ+ characters comes in the form of one of the protagonists, whom the kids might classify as a “disaster lesbian.” Throughout the movie, the normalization of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships is aloe vera, soothing the irritating sunburn of heteronormativity. The characters are always questioning the norm and each other. But sometimes assumptions are made, and in these moments, “Booksmart” illustrates that one often sees what one wants to see. True-to-life, things are rarely ever as black and white or predictable as they seem. People are more than their reputation.
One last plug for this movie has got to be its phenomenal cast. Each member's performance is extraordinary, wrought with hilarity and unique presence. We have Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as the protagonists. Jessica Williams as their favorite teacher. Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte as Dever’s supportive and dorky parents (their pun platters captured my heart). Jason Sudeikis as the high school principal. Billie Lourd, Diana Silvers, and Skyler Gisondo as Feldstein and Dever’s classmates. Last but not least, Maya Rudolph as the Motivational Voice we all wish we heard every single day of our lives.