Booksmart (2019) Review

Booksmart (2019)

Directed by Olivia Wilde

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Booksmart stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two graduating high school girls who set out to finally break the rules and party on their last day of classes.

My Opinion:

I was really looking forward to this movie after the huge amount of hype on Film Twitter. And even though I’m WAY beyond my teenage years, I’ll always love a good teen movie. Of course I will; I grew up on John Hughes! I think there have been some very good coming of age movies in recent years, which will probably forever be a favorite sub genre of mine thanks to Stand By Me being a favorite film from my own teen years. But I do tend to prefer the more serious teen films, such as The Edge Of Seventeen & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, to the full-on comedies such as Booksmart. Maybe that’s why I found this movie slightly disappointing? I don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of straightforward comedies. This movie really just is the female version of Superbad, which I found quite average and only occasionally funny. I do think Booksmart is the better film, but only slightly. Weird that Jonah Hill’s sister, Beanie Feldstein, is in what I see as the female version of his movie…

Do I dare bring this up or will I get in trouble? Screw it – I’m female. I think, as there’s such a push for female directors now, some of their movies are getting overhyped. Guess what? One woman directed AND wrote The Edge Of Seventeen, which is a much better film. Why was nothing said of that? Because, just a few years ago when that came out, everyone wasn’t so focused on being so damn outraged over everything. You know what else is a much better and far funnier film than Booksmart? Clueless. Waaaay back in the dark ages of 1995 yet also directed and written by just one woman. Know what else is a fantastic film and female as f*^k? Waitress (2007), directed and written by the lovely Adrienne Shelly. If she was alive & that film had come out now, it would be up for some damn Oscars. So, yeah, female-led films are being overhyped now as they were so often unfairly dismissed in the past. I get it. I do. But Booksmart is just… Okay.

I promise I’ll shut up in a minute. I’m not going to get into a big discussion on female directors or how much I f*^king love Wayne’s World & Point Break. I’m really happy that women do finally seem to be getting more opportunities to direct now and I know I’ll absolutely love some of their films and may be able to relate to them more. I just wish that they’d been given more recognition in the past because there have been better films than Lady Bird made by women over the years (good but not Best Picture material – Hell, The Edge Of Seventeen was better). So. Booksmart is fun and I did laugh at times but it’s no better (and no worse) than similar films made by men such as Judd Apatow. If you like the Seth Rogen-type comedies but not Booksmart (and vice versa), that makes no sense and you probably ARE sexist. Because it’s the exact same type of movie. Whatever. I’m just sick of people getting hung up on who directs or stars in a movie. Who cares? I just like good characters & writing. I want to be entertained. *Rant over*

Should I actually talk about the movie?! Sorry! I do go off on one sometimes. I won’t once again get started on female-starring comedies always getting far lower ratings than male-starring comedies so I admit that sexism clearly does sadly still exist, especially when it comes to comedy for some strange reason. I don’t personally like either film AT ALL but there’s no f*^king WAY that The Hangover deserves a higher IMDb rating than Bridesmaids. I swear people get a little weird about women daring to be raunchy too. I like raunchy women, dammit, and I like that Booksmart manages to be raunchy but intelligent & realistic about it. Maybe that’s why it’s being more readily accepted? I’m not comparing it to Bridesmaids – it’s definitely a much better film. I don’t like “shock” comedy and Booksmart is more the kind of humor that I go for.

I think the problem is that some of its humor doesn’t work at all. I liked the two main characters just fine but thought all the other characters were very weak. The “doll part”, while a favorite scene for some, didn’t work for me. It’s the kind of dumb scene that modern teens would bitch about in an Eighties movie such as Better Off Dead. We were making dumb scenes like that before today’s teenagers were born! And, as much as I hate to say it as I adore Carrie Fisher, I thought Billie Lourd’s character was ridiculous. I’m not saying it’s her fault – I just didn’t like the character. Never mind that she’s clearly ten years older than any high school student I’ve ever seen but, okay, I know this has always been a thing in “teen” movies all the way back to Grease. I was just confused as I honestly didn’t realize she was a fellow student at first. As I said, though, I liked the two main characters just fine and thought that Kaitlyn Dever & Beanie Feldstein were funny and very believable as best friends. They’re what made the movie better overall. I truly did want to love this but I’m always very picky when it comes to comedy. I enjoyed it but, admittedly, I’m getting further & further away from being the target audience for a teen film. I’m glad that teenagers do seem to be loving it and fully understand why. It’s a good teen comedy. I even admit that it’s a far better film than some of the very dodgy teen movies I liked in the Eighties. But it’s certainly no Stand By Me. Or even Better Off Dead

My Rating: 7/10

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Short Term 12 (2013) Review

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Short Term 12 (2013)

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Starring:
Brie Larson
John Gallagher, Jr.
Kaitlyn Dever
Rami Malek
Keith Stanfield
Kevin Hernandez
Melora Walters
Stephanie Beatriz
Lydia Du Veaux
Alex Calloway
Frantz Turner
Diana-Maria Riva

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend.

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My Opinion:

I remember this movie had a lot of positive buzz when it was out & I’ve been meaning to watch it for a long time, especially after I then saw Brie Larson in a couple other movies & thought she was pretty fantastic. I thought she was the actual highlight of the somewhat mediocre 21 Jump Street & even of that weird Don Jon movie (which is pretty impressive as she only had one line). Oh, and she was good in The Spectacular Now (probably should have been the lead instead of Shailene Woodley).

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Well, Larson is great in Short Term 12. I’m surprised she hasn’t yet gotten the sort of attention that Jennifer Lawrence did for Winter’s Bone. I mean, I think she did get a bunch of awards for it but she’s still not as famous as Lawrence. Hopefully she’ll get the right sort of role that gets her more recognition. And this might sound weird but, hey – I’m a girl & I like seeing girls who look like regular people in movies for a change! She’s cute, obviously, but not some freakishly gorgeous supermodel.

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In Short Term 12, Larson plays a 20-something who works with a group of other young adults in a home for troubled teens. It’s a fairly heavy film but the characters are pretty well developed and you really do care about what will happen to each of them. You get to know several of the teens at the home but they mainly focus on the stories of two of them while we slowly learn more about Larson’s character’s background & how it affects her job and her life with her boyfriend, who also works at the group home. Her boyfriend is sweet & funny and they have what appears to be a great relationship. I’ve always said that I find it very hard to like a movie if I hate all the characters and Short Term 12 is the exact opposite of this. Even those who are in the home and are getting in fights, swearing & spitting at staff, etc, all have their reasons & just need people to be there for them. I liked everyone in this and hoped for a happy resolution for all of them. It’s not all “sad drama”, though – the boyfriend has a nice sense of humor & there are some heartwarming scenes. I was asked what other movies this is like and I couldn’t really think of one. Maybe something like Stand And Deliver and, hell, maybe even Dangerous Minds? But more “indie” and with a younger feel to it than those as everyone is in their early-20s or their teens in Short Term 12. I do think, if I’d seen this as a teenager, I’d have loved it & watched it over & over like I did with Stand By Me every day after school when I was 13.

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Summary:

Great performances & characters make Short Term 12 a fulfilling movie experience. It’s a bit heavy & a little sad but manages to be uplifting as well and gives us characters we care about. It doesn’t feel contrived & the people in it feel “real”. The director wrote this after working in a similar home just like Larson’s character, which is probably why the movie feels so genuine. Yeah, I thought this one was pretty good.

My Rating: 8/10

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