James Heywood’s review published on Letterboxd:
Booksmart is the film to beat this year for me in pure, unadulterated enjoyment. I know it's kind of early to call, but no film this year has made me want to go and watch it again straight away, not even Endgame. And the problem is I saw I preview screening, so I HAVE to wait!!!!
I love Superbad. To me, it captures this depiction of teenage shenanigans, language and problems that can be relatable to anyone from any generation. But pop culture and the teenage experience has changed so much since that film was made, and especially written. While this in now way makes Superbad outdated or irrelevant in 2019, it doesn't always reflect the teenage culture as a millennial in 2019, especially due to its male focus. Again, this isnt a bad thing.
Booksmart captures this current and inclusive teenage world, without coming off as forced (for the most part) or preachy. This film is just fun.
From the moment the film starts, you instantly love the characters. Amy and Molly are incredibly relatable and likeable, and both Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein respectively absolutely nail the portrayal of the teenage best friends overcoming their fears and enjoying high school. Every character, no matter how small, has standout moments that leave you in stitches. I seriously cannot create a shortlist of standouts, because everyone deserves to be on the list (special shoutout to the characters of Jared and George though).
The one problem I did have with the characters was memorability in a crucial sense. Students you met within the first 20 minutes and not see again would reappear in the third act, and it would often take me more than a second to realise who they were, and their significance in the scene. Some more time fleshing out fleshing out these characters in the first act would of fixed this.
Just like Superbad, this film oozes with style. The soundtrack of Booksmart is spectacular, every tune captures a vibe and adds so much to their respective scenes. Whether its speeding down the street to headbopping DJ Shadow and RTJ or entering a scene to groovy and smooth Leikeli47, each scenes song choice adds so much and takes away nothing.
The story takes lots of twists and turns throughout, never leaving a dull moment. At times, scenes could feel a little rushed or drag on just a tad, Olivia Wilde (her directorial debut by the way, what an entrance!) has so much to give to this film that sometimes scenes can feel like their crammed in. This isn't a dealbreaker, but it did leave me wanting more from certain plotlines and scenarios.
While both films have positive conclusions and ideas about friendship, Booksmart is ALL about positivity. The way Amy and Molly talk to each other is golden. The over the top boosting of confidence and praise is so refreshing in a teenage comedy. This film promotes acceptance of everyone, no matter your sexual orientation, lifestyle, career path or presentation. This film is pure inclusion, positively and love, mostly without being explicit about it, and I love it.
Whilst I've used Superbad as a comparison to this film, Booksmart is so much more than a Superbad-esc teenage comedy. And while the comparison is in no way an insult in my opinion, the movie has so much more to offer than it needed to, it is pure cinematic joy, being well shot, well written and well, amazing! Go see Booksmart, I know I want to.... right now!