It's not often you see a Rotten Tomatoes critics score as high as 99%. But that's exactly what Olivia Wilde has achieved with her feature directorial debut, Booksmart. The R-rated film tells of brainiac best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), who attempt to cram four years of missed partying into a single night. Four takes:
- "Nothing funnier, smarter, quicker or more joyous has graced the big screen in a long time," according to Joe Morgenstern. "A high-school comedy with a graduate degree … it's a thrilling achievement by any measure, an AP course in the exuberance of youth," he writes at the Wall Street Journal. Wilde "proves to be an ambitious filmmaker with the technique—supported by a firecracker of a script," he adds.
- "Feldstein, whose brother Jonah Hill starred in Superbad, honors his comic legacy—and more important, forges her own," writes Justin Chang at the Los Angeles Times. Dever also gets praise for "a touching performance that feels both open and guarded." Together, the pair are "the most entertaining duo to grace a high-school comedy in some time."
- Monica Castillo sums it up as "a stellar high school comedy with an A+ cast, a brilliant script loaded with witty dialogue, eye-catching cinematography, swift editing, and a danceable soundtrack." In other words, "a complete package delivered to theaters with a bow on top." Wilde's "sense of humor shines through every ridiculous situation, sharp quip or a visual gag," and "the supporting cast is just as wonderfully funny as the stars," Castillo writes at RogerEbert.com.
- NPR's Linda Holmes writes Feldstein and Dever "are not even the only ones in the cast who deserve to be called revelations." But she was most taken with the feel of Booksmart. "It's a humane and heartfelt film without a mean bone in its figurative body, truly," and "the story of Amy's queer-kid journey is wonderful in that it is both a specifically and assertively queer-kid story and a story that anyone shy, anyone uncertain, can understand."
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