'Booksmart' is a hilarious, vulgar and witty coming-of-age story

Actors Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever on the set of Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, "BOOKSMART," an Annapurna Pictures release. (Photo: Annapurna Pictures)

4 out of 5 Stars
Olivia Wilde
Writers: Susan Fogel, Emily Halpern,Sarah Haskins, Katie Silberman
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Billie Lourd, Skyler Gisondo
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R for strong sexual content and language throughout, drug use and drinking - all involving teens

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: High school seniors Amy and Molly have sacrificed their social lives under the assumption that hard work would set them apart from their classmates. When that assumption is revealed to be false, the duo set aside their bookish ways and set out for a night of pre-graduation debauchery.

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Review: I like to go into a movie screening as blind as I possibly can. So, while I knew that “Booksmart” had been warmly received at its premiere screening at the South by Southwest festival, I didn’t bother with the details because:

You had me at Kaitlyn Dever.

And then you surprised me with Billie Lourd.

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Coming-of-age stories are a dime a dozen, but “Booksmart” is the latest example of how the genre isn’t nearly as tired as you might expect. “Booksmart” is more “Superbad” than it is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” or “Eighth Grade,” but the writing is wicked smart and frequently hilarious as it presents the adventures of two awkwardly real high school seniors as they embark on an endless night of pre-graduation partying.

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The film is filled with larger-than-life characters and the sort of parties that exist only in Hollywood, but at the core of the narrative are Amy and Molly, two painfully real high school students who are just learning that life isn’t fair because money and prestige will get you just as far as hard work and dedication. They’re outcast overachievers with the reputation of taking life far more seriously than anyone else their age. They aren’t hated, or dehumanized. They’re just different and wonderfully so.

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“Booksmart” features intelligent writing from Susan Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman paired with great performances by Dever and Beanie Feldstein and a supporting cast that includes Lourd, Diana Silvers, Molly Gordon, Jason Sudeikis and Skyler Gisondo and inventive direction from Olivia Wilde. Yes, that Olivia Wilde. Some people have all the talent.

Best comedy of 2019? Very likely.

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