I'd heard a lot of good things about Booksmart, but also know a couple of people who found it completely unwatchable, so I went into this with a small amount of trepidation. Luckily, the comedy landed perfectly for me, and what could have been a completely cringefest was instead an uproarious couple of hours that brought some genuinely novel ideas to the long-standing formula of teen comedy.
A huge part of the success I'm certain is down to the brilliant casting of leads Beanie Feldstein (Molly) and Kaitlyn Dever (Amy). Their onscreen chemistry and perfect comedy timing helped elevate a number of otherwise run-of-the-mill sequences to laugh-out-loud status, whilst their acting range was enough to make me give a crap about their characters and sympathise with their often outlandish behaviour. Throw in a supporting cast that all played their parts as well as needed and some clearly solid direction (from none other than13, Olivia Wilde, herself 😮) and this is a film I'll happily return to many times. I think on rewatch it may lose a little of the initial shock humour, but I imagine it'll otherwise hold up well.
Honestly, I don't have anything bad to say about things. Yes, the plot is fairly formulaic, but that's just what you teen comedies are. Instead, it breaks the mould with clever character development and a modernised subversion of often problematic high school tropes (something it shares with the likes of 21 Jump Street, though arguably does better). That it also deals sensitively with a broad range of character types, sexualities, and cultures (and does so without centring them in a way which would feel preachy or overly white-knight like) is the cherry on top. And that's before you consider that it includes one of the cleverest drug trip scenes I've seen in a while 😂
Still, it is a teen comedy and I don't think it overly reinvents the genre; it just brings it up to date. As a result, it's highly commendable and extremely enjoyable, but I don't think it's quite the A*-grade solid gold that some reviewers made it out to be. An excellent watch, nonetheless.