September 7th, 2019
One of my favorite memories from this past summer took place on a Saturday morning in June, when I saw Booksmart (2019) at the Angelika Film Center. The film started at 10:00am. There was something special about seeing a film that early on a Saturday. It felt freeing, as though time had bended to my will, and as if the afternoon had switched places with the morning. There definitely was only one other person in the theater.
I didn’t know what to expect, though I had heard that Will Ferrell had a role in producing the film. Although over two months have passed since I sat in the theater that Saturday morning in June; the freshness and crispness and humor and visuals of the film have stayed with me. I had never seen Kaitlyn Dever or Beanie Feldstein on screen before, and remember instantly enjoying their chemistry.
Although I knew the basic premise of the film before I arrived at the Angelika, as the plot began unfolding, I realized that I was watching a high school film, reinvented and updated. This was the class of 2019; and a lot has changed since I graduated from high school in 2004, and even more has changed since Susan Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) share their mock-kiss in a mechanic’s garage in Los Angeles, back in 1987, via John Hughes' Some Kind of Wonderful, which I consider a masterpiece.
Booksmart is sharp-witted but not without heart. It’s centered around a friendship between Molly Davidson (Feldstein) and Amy Antsler (Dever) as they approach the end of their senior year of high school. In short, they’re determined to make the most of their final night before graduation.
Later that day I read that the script was originally written in the early aughts, and that the premise was initially something to the effect of: two nerdy girls decide to do everything they can to get boyfriends before their senior prom. That film was never made, and would have been lame. Booksmart is way cooler. And you should see it.
- Isaac Myers III