“Who allowed you to be this beautiful?”
This is the first line we hear from the two lifelong best friends, Molly and Amy. Booksmart has the thing that is missing from many films centered around friendship, and that is their openly-stated love, admiration, and respect for their friend. Booksmart is a shining example of positive female friendship because the entire film is the pair versus the world rather than them versus each other. You can see the shared love that comes from growing up with someone as your best friend in the whole world, and because of that, they fully embrace and truly love each other.
This positivity isn’t only a breath of fresh air for our protagonists. Booksmart has a full class of distinct characters. Some are more stereotypical than others, but there is still a diversity in the cast of classmates, which is not unlike what you’d find in a school today. One great example is the character of Ryan. Booksmart allows Ryan, one of the female classmates, to be herself, as a masculine, short-haired, skateboarding woman, without forcing her to be gay. As a queer individual myself, it is refreshing to be able to see a female character step outside the role of traditional femininity without shoehorning her to be gay as an explanation.
Throughout the first and second act, we follow Molly and Amy as they run into various supposedly annoying and stuck-up classmates on the way to their last chance at a high school party. The film even makes Molly realize that her not liking one of her classmates was only because of a slut-shaming rumor her classmates passed around, which she participated in. By the end of the film, we grow to appreciate all of their classmates. We see that they are all human and have reasons, and dimensions, for the way they act.
In the end, Booksmart is a refreshing take on the teen comedy genre that reflects a more progressive and inclusive generation.
Grant Carson is finishing up their Film and New Media degree at the Johnny Carson School of Theater and Film at UNL. They are working on their capstone, which they plan on turning into a full feature film following graduation.