Booksmart

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Booksmart
Booksmart (2019 film poster).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byOlivia Wilde
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music byDan the Automator
CinematographyJason McCormick
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed byUnited Artists Releasing
Release date
  • March 10, 2019 (2019-03-10) (SXSW)
  • May 24, 2019 (2019-05-24) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6 million[2]
Box office$24.4 million[3]

Booksmart is a 2019 American coming-of-age comedy film directed by Olivia Wilde (in her feature directorial debut), from a screenplay by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman. It 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; Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis also star. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay executive produced the film through Gloria Sanchez Productions.

The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on May 24, 2019, by United Artists Releasing, to acclaim from critics and grossed over $24 million.

Plot[edit]

Amy and Molly are two high school seniors who have been best friends since childhood but are considered pretentious by their peers. Amy has been out for two years and has a crush on a girl named Ryan; Molly urges Amy to attempt to forge a relationship with her before they graduate. On the eve of their high school graduation, Molly overhears classmates talking about her in the bathroom, she confronts them and tells them she got into Yale, but they reveal that despite partying they too got into good colleges. Stunned, a panicking Molly rages while all her classmates celebrate the end of final year. Molly angrily tells Amy they should have enjoyed their time in high school more, she proposes they go to a graduation party held by Nick at his aunt’s house; though initially reluctant, Amy accepts.

The pair quickly realize that neither of them knows the address of Nick's party. Molly calls Jared, a wealthy classmate who likes her, he brings them to his unattended party on a yacht, where they encounter his drug-crazed friend, Gigi. Amy suggests that they go home, having fulfilled their plan to party before graduation, but Molly calls a "Malala" (their code for unconditionally doing what the other wants to do), and Amy consents to continue with the night; the girls call a Lyft and are shocked to be picked up by their principal, Jordan Brown. After the girls accidentally play pornography through his car speakers, Brown drops them off at what they think is Nick's aunt's house, it turns out to be their classmate George's house, who's hosting a murder mystery party. They encounter Gigi again, who reveals that the strawberries they ate on the yacht were drugged. Amy and Molly soon experience a bad trip and hallucinate that they are George's sister's fashion dolls, they escape George's house and get the location of the party from a pizza delivery man. Amy accidentally leaves her phone in his car. Molly's phone is nearly dead, lasting just long enough to call their teacher, Miss Fine, who gives them a change of clothes and a ride to Nick's party.

When they arrive, Amy goes to talk to Ryan and Molly goes to talk to Nick, on whom Gigi got her to confess she has a crush. Amy finds Ryan making out with Nick; embarrassed and heartbroken, Amy wants to leave, she finds Molly and calls her own "Malala", but Molly refuses to grant it, thinking she has a chance with Nick. This sends Amy into a rage, and she reveals she is taking a gap year to travel to Botswana, as she resents how Molly always tries to control her life; the two loudly argue in front of their classmates, and Amy runs to the bathroom, finding Hope, her classmate, already in there. They are at first combative towards each other, but then Amy kisses Hope, they start to have sex but Amy vomits on her, ruining the moment. Cops show up, and the party-goers scatter. Molly, unable to find Amy, is driven home by Triple A, a popular student with a reputation for promiscuity, and the two bond over the stereotypes that both have suffered from.

Molly wakes up on graduation day regretting what happened between her and Amy, she discovers on her phone everyone is talking about how cool Amy was for creating a diversion at the party, allowing everyone else to escape the police, and getting herself arrested. Molly visits Amy in jail and apologizes for her manipulative actions, leading to the pair's reconciliation. Molly learns the pizza driver is a serial killer and they trade that information to get Amy out of jail, they take Jared's car to graduation where Molly kisses Jared onstage and gives an improvised valedictorian speech, receiving a standing ovation.

A few days later, as Molly helps Amy prepare for her trip to Botswana, Hope comes to the door and gives Amy her number. Molly subsequently drives Amy to the airport, where they share a tearful goodbye; as Molly drives away, Amy jumps in front of her car, saying she has time to hang out before her flight; she suggests they get pancakes, and Molly ecstatically accepts.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

An early version of the screenplay, Book Smart by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, was circulated in 2009 and appeared on the 2009 Black List[5]; in 2014 Susanna Fogel revised the screenplay, rewriting one lead character as a lesbian and revising the story so the girls are not seeking boyfriends for the prom, but are going to an after-prom party.[6]

Following the revisions, Annapurna Pictures purchased the screenplay and approached Gloria Sanchez Productions to produce it; Gloria Sanchez' Jessica Elbaum pitched the screenplay to Olivia Wilde, who read the screenplay and two days later expressed admiration for it.[6] Megan Ellison, Chelsea Bernard, David Distenfeld, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Elbaum would serve as producers on the film.[7] Screenwriter Katie Silberman was hired for more revisions in spring 2018, and to update the story.[6][8] Silberman explored a new concept:

What if the two friends realized that they did high school all wrong? What if they realized that everyone they thought just partied and wasted their high-school years were going to Ivy League schools just like them?[6]

According to Silberman, "Olivia's mantra to all of us was that high school is war".[9] Wilde also envisioned "a drug trip where the girls turned into Barbie dolls" and gave Silberman the responsibility of where to incorporate it into the story.[10]

Casting[edit]

In February 2018, Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein joined the cast of the film.[11] In May 2018, Billie Lourd and Skyler Gisondo joined the cast of the film;[12][13] that same month, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Mike O'Brien, Mason Gooding, Noah Galvin, Diana Silvers, Austin Crute, Eduardo Franco, Molly Gordon, and Nico Hiraga joined the cast of the film.[14]

Silvers was initially asked to audition for Ryan, but felt her appearance was not ideal for the character and auditioned for Hope instead.[15] Wilde also urged Feldstein and Dever to live together to develop a rapport;[16] the two actresses were roommates in Los Angeles for ten weeks.[17] Wilde also asked the cast to read the screenplay and signal if they found dialogue that felt "inauthentic ... [and] rewrite it in your own voice".[17] Silberman continued to write after casting, finding it easy to come up with dialogue to fit Feldstein and Dever.[8] Silberman particularly credited the complimentary language the characters use to Feldstein, who frequently posted "I have no breath" to Instagram.[10]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began in May 2018 around the San Fernando Valley.[18][19]

Wilde and production designer Katie Byron decorated the bedrooms seen in the film, including with trophies and depictions of prominent American women Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[10]

Release[edit]

Director Olivia Wilde, co-writer Katie Silberman, and producer Jessica Elbaum at the South by Southwest Booksmart panel

It had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2019,[20] it was released wide in the United States on May 24, 2019.[21] It was also released in France on Netflix the same day.[22]

Home media[edit]

Booksmart was released on digital download on August 20, 2019, and on DVD and Blu-ray on September 3, 2019.[23]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Booksmart grossed $22.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $1.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $24.4 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, Booksmart was released alongside Aladdin and Brightburn, and was projected to gross around $12 million from 2,505 theaters in its four-day opening weekend;[24] the film made $2.5 million on its first day, including $875,000 from Thursday night previews. It ended up underperforming, debuting to just $6.9 million (a four-day total of $8.7 million), finishing in sixth place.[25] Industry publications insisted that although the targeted young female demographic did turn out to the film, it should have begun with a limited release and expanded, similar to the R-rated, female-led high school comedy Lady Bird in 2017, and that Booksmart failed to stand out in the crowded marketplace.[26][27][25][2] In its second weekend the film made $3.3 million, dropping 52% and finishing in eighth.[28]

The film's largest market outside North America is the United Kingdom, where it collected around US$1.8 million (UK£1.5 million) after seven weeks in theatres.[29]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 316 reviews, with an average rating of 8.27/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy."[30] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[31] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 80%.[25]

Peter Debruge of Variety praised the ensemble cast as well as Wilde's direction, calling the film "the best high school buddy comedy since Superbad".[5] Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, calling it a "refreshingly original take on the raunchy coming-of-age comedy" and praising Feldstein and Dever's chemistry.[32] A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, calling it "sharp but not mean, warm without feeling too soft or timid", and referring to Feldstein and Dever as "a classic comedy duo".[33] Emily Yoshida of Vulture also gave the film a positive review, writing that it "manages to be inclusive and progressive, without being precious about anything or sacrificing an ounce of humor".[34] Alissa Wilkinson of Vox awarded the film a score of 4/5, writing that Booksmart feels memorable and relatable because it taps into the truth that "When you’re a teenager [...] your biggest enemy is usually yourself."[35] NPR gave an especially favorable review saying "without a mean bone in its figurative body".[36]

Accolades[edit]

Wilde was named as one of the Directors to Watch at the Palm Springs International Film Festival;[37] she also won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Booksmart". South by Southwest. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Charles Barfield (June 2, 2019). "Sorry Folks, 'Booksmart' Was Set Up For Box Office Disappointment & Politicizing It Isn't Helping". The Playlist. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Booksmart (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  4. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (May 9, 2019). "What It's Like Playing Mortal Enemies in 'Booksmart' for Three Real-Life Best Friends". Thrillist. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Peter Debruge (March 11, 2019). "'Booksmart' Review: The Best High School Buddy Comedy Since 'Superbad'". Variety. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Guerrasi, Jason (May 25, 2019). "How 'Booksmart' went from a 2009 script collecting dust to this year's must-see movie of the summer". Business Insider. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Gonzalez, Umberto (February 16, 2018). "Olivia Wilde to Make Feature Directing Debut With Booksmart". The Wrap. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Erbland, Kate (May 21, 2019). "How 'Booksmart' Writer Katie Silberman Turned a Beloved Years-Old Script Into the Movie of the Moment". Indiewire. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  9. ^ Cipriani, Casey. "How 'Booksmart' Writer Katie Silberman Captured The All-Out "War" That Is High School". Bustle. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Lindsay, Kathryn (May 28, 2019). "Booksmart's Screenwriter Katie Silberman May Be The New Rom-Com Queen". Refinery29. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 16, 2018). "Olivia Wilde Sets Directorial Debut Booksmart With Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein to Star". Variety. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  12. ^ Hixon, Michael (May 9, 2018). "Manhattan Beach's Skyler Gisondo from 'Santa Clarita Diet' to star in indie film". The Beach Reporter. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Bentley, Jean (May 18, 2018). "Billie Lourd To Return To American Horror Story For Season 8, Joins Booksmart Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 22, 2018). "Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Others Join Olivia Wilde's 'Booksmart' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Handler, Rachel (May 24, 2019). "Diana Silvers on Booksmart's Groundbreaking Sex Scene". Vulture.com. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  16. ^ Huver, Scott (May 14, 2019). "Why 'Booksmart' Stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever Moved In Together During Filming". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Kelly, Mary Louise (May 24, 2019). "'Booksmart' Director Olivia Wilde: Teen Movies 'Made Me Excited To Be Young'". NPR. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  18. ^ Silvers, Diana (May 1, 2018). "Sending endless love to the Booksmart peeps as they embark on week 1 of filming!! Can't wait to join you guys on set soon!! 🤩🤓 @BeanieFeldstein @KaitlynDever @oliviawilde ...and everyone else that I haven't met yet/don't know who's playing who 😬". Twitter.com. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  19. ^ Strauss, Bob (May 17, 2019). "The new movie 'Booksmart' was filmed in and around the San Fernando Valley. Here's where". Daily Mail. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  20. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 16, 2019). "SXSW: Olivia Wilde, Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey to Premiere New Work". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  21. ^ "Booksmart (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  22. ^ Audra Schroeder (May 28, 2019). "The middling box office showing for 'Booksmart' isn't Netflix's fault". The Daily Dot.
  23. ^ McCrae, Phil (August 5, 2019). "Booksmart Release Date". Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  24. ^ Jeremy Fuster (May 21, 2019). "Will 'Aladdin' Dodge the 'Blue Will Smith' Jokes and Find Box Office Riches?". TheWrap. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  25. ^ a b c Anthony D'Alessandro (May 26, 2019). "'Aladdin' Memorial Day Magic Carpet Ride Soars Higher With $112M+ Opening – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  26. ^ Mia Galuppo (May 29, 2019). "Box Office: 'Booksmart' Gambles With Wide Release and Stumbles". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  27. ^ Sharf, Zack; Sharf, Zack (28 May 2019). "'Booksmart' Box Office Struggle Divides Industry Over Annapurna's Marketing and Release Strategy".
  28. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 2, 2019). "'Godzilla' Loses Teeth With $49M Opening, But Counter-Programming Excels For First Time This Summer With 'Rocketman' & 'Ma'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  29. ^ "'Spider-Man', 'Toy Story 4' stay top of UK box office as 'Annabelle Comes Home' lands third". Screen Daily. July 15, 2019.
  30. ^ "Booksmart (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  31. ^ "Booksmart Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  32. ^ Roeper, Richard (May 21, 2019). "'Booksmart': The smart girls cut loose over one wild but insightful night of partying". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  33. ^ A. O. Scott (May 22, 2019). "Review: 'Booksmart' Crashes the Party and Aces the Test". The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  34. ^ Emily Yoshida (May 24, 2019). "Booksmart Is a Goddamn Delight, and a Major Moment in the Teen Movie Canon". Vulture. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  35. ^ Alissa Wilkinson (May 24, 2019). "Booksmart review: Like Superbad, but with girls, and better". Vox.com. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  36. ^ Holmes, Linda. "'Booksmart' Is A Wise And Warm Summer Comedy". NPR.org. 2019 NPR. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  37. ^ "Variety's 10 Directors to Watch". The Desert Sun. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  38. ^ "SFFILM Wraps 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival After 14 Days of Films, Conversations, and Celebrations". San Francisco International Film Festival. Retrieved May 26, 2019.

External links[edit]