Booksmart ★★½

Ugh— I really wanted to like this movie. It’s not bad by any means, but it lacks the authenticity that these high school coming-of-age movies really need. The reality that Booksmart’s high school takes place in is pretty outlandish. (The lack of vape juice should be your first hint.)

First and foremost, every characters future seems so perfectly laid out for them. Whether it’s an Ivy League school or a “mid six-figure position at Google”, everyone seems to be on track for a fantasy level future. If theres one thing that makes coming-of-age films effective, it’s the uncertainty of the future. It’s the impending terror of the floor falling out from underneath you. That anxiety isnt a factor in Booksmart at all.

Second, the soundtrack is awesome but the movie leans on it a lot. In moments where the emotion should be derived from whats happening on screen, instead it is informed by the song that is emanating from the speakers. It’s a cheap trick, and it ultimately took away from my experience.

Third, you cant help but see the resemblance this movie has with Superbad. That movies DNA is laced throughout Booksmart. From the ravenous hunger to finally attend a party, to the clumsy attempts at sex, to the parking in a reserved spot— the similarities are endless. Ultimately, this film didnt live up to Superbad from a dramatic or comedic standpoint, and therefore looks slightly worse for it. 

The few redeeming factors are Kaitlyn Dever, Skyler Gisondo and the stop-motion doll sequence.