Queer actress Beanie Feldstein, the younger sibling of actor Jonah Hill, had a recent stint appearing in Hello Dolly on Broadway in the shadows of Bette Midler, but after her stunning breakthrough performance in Booksmart she is bound to always be upfront and center from now on. A star is really born.
Feldstein plays too-good-to-be-true girl Molly in actress Olivia Wilde’s directing debut, an hilarious coming-of-age-story with a difference. Molly and her best pal Amy (Kaitlyn Deaver) have spent the whole of their High School years being nerds and devoting all their time to studying and never ever easing up to have any fun. Molly is high school Valedictorian and student-body president and has got accepted to Yale, her top-choice university — and the first step in her goal of becoming the youngest Supreme Court justice .
However on the eve of their Graduation the two girls discover that all their other classmates who had partied hard through the past years had also not only got great grades but had won places at Ivy League Colleges too.
Furious with rage the two girls decide that they have no other option than to cram everything they missed into this one last night making up for all the madness and mayhem they had studiously avoided. Not entirely sure what this may entail they know that THE party they must crash is the one held by school bad-boy Nick (Mason Gooding) especially as Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) is going to be there, and Amy wants to finally lose her lesbian cherry to her in this all-or-nothing night.
In this fast-paced film the two girls who have now completely let their hair down and literrally get drunk, inadvertently take hallucinogenic drugs, are hit on by both boys and girls, and one of them even spends the night in jail.
Interestingly enough the original script by Harvard grads Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins had been doing the rounds in Hollywood for the past 10 years until it landed in Wilde’s lap who must take a lion’s share of the credit for the very fresh and unique spin that was put on it. Very much a funny feminist tale that once again re-iterates the need for more women to helm comedy movies as they excel at avoiding all the cliched stereotypes that usually clutter up movies like this.
The camera totally loves Feldstein who is so pitch perfect as the ambitious girl who misinterprets intelligence as purely a means to be booksmart and which in turn makes her completely ignorant of life outside of school. Her virginity covers so much more than sex, and her performance throughout the entire 105 minutes is such a joy from start to finish.
Kudos too for making each of the supporting and cameo parts well rounded roles : particularly an almost unrecognizable Lisa Kudrow as Amy’s mother; Will Forte as Amy’s flamboyant father; Billie Lourd as outrageous Gigi who managed to be everywhere at the same time.; slut-shamed Triple A (Molly Gordon) and also Ms Wilde’s’ husband Jason Sudelkis as the School Principal/Uber Driver.
The movie enjoyed a respectable modest success at the Box Office when it opened in May 2019, and is now available on DVD and streaming on Amazon Prime. However as Feldstein’s performance has been nominated for a Golden Globe, maybe it will return to mivii theaters soon!