Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Olivia Wilde|
|Music by||Dan the Automator|
|Distributed by||United Artists Releasing|
|Box office||$24.8 million|
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 by United Artists Releasing in the United States on May 24, 2019, to acclaim from critics and grossed over $24 million. For her performance, Feldstein was nominated for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
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 prestigious 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.
- Beanie Feldstein as Molly Davidson
- Kaitlyn Dever as Amy Antsler
- Jessica Williams as Miss Fine
- Lisa Kudrow as Charmaine Antsler
- Will Forte as Doug Antsler
- Jason Sudeikis as Jordan Brown
- Billie Lourd as Gigi
- Diana Silvers as Hope
- Skyler Gisondo as Jared
- Molly Gordon as Annabelle, or "Triple A"
- Noah Galvin as George
- Austin Crute as Alan
- Victoria Ruesga as Ryan
- Eduardo Franco as Theo
- Nico Hiraga as Tanner
- Mason Gooding as Nick Howland
- Mike O'Brien as Pat the Pizza Guy
- Bluesy Burke as Cindy
- Christopher Avila as Rob
- Stephanie Styles as Alison
- Adam Simon Krist as Dick
- Gideon Lang as Skip
- Maya Rudolph as Motivational Voice
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; 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.
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. Megan Ellison, Chelsea Bernard, David Distenfeld, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Elbaum would serve as producers on the film. Screenwriter Katie Silberman was hired for more revisions in spring 2018, and to update the story. 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?
According to Silberman, "Olivia's mantra to all of us was that high school is war". 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.
In February 2018, Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein joined the cast of the film. In May 2018, Billie Lourd and Skyler Gisondo joined the cast of the film. 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.
Silvers was initially asked to audition for Ryan, but felt her appearance was not ideal for the character and auditioned for Hope instead. Wilde also urged Feldstein and Dever to live together to develop a rapport. The two actresses were roommates in Los Angeles for ten weeks. 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". Silberman continued to write after casting, finding it easy to come up with dialogue to fit Feldstein and Dever. Silberman particularly credited the complimentary language the characters use to Feldstein, who frequently posted "I have no breath" to Instagram.
Booksmart grossed $22.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $2.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $24.8 million.
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. 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. 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. In its second weekend the film made $3.3 million, dropping 52% and finishing in eighth.
The film's largest market outside North America was the United Kingdom, where it grossed around US$1.8 million (£1.5 million) after seven weeks in theaters.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 338 reviews, with an average rating of 8.28/10. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". 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%.
Rotten Tomatoes named Booksmart the #1 best comedy of the decade for the 2010s, using an adjusted formula that weighed multiple factors, including a movie’s release year and its number of reviews.
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". 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. 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". 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". 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." NPR gave an especially favorable review saying "without a mean bone in its figurative body".
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Austin Film Critics Association||January 6, 2020||Best First Film||Booksmart||Pending|||
|British Academy Film Awards||February 2, 2020||Best Original Screenplay||Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman||Pending|||
|Chicago Film Critics Association||December 14, 2019||Milos Stehlik Breakthrough Filmmaker Award||Olivia Wilde||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Awards||January 12, 2020||Best Comedy||Booksmart||Pending|||
|Detroit Film Critics Society||December 9, 2019||Breakthrough||Kaitlyn Dever||Nominated[a]|||
|Dorian Awards||January 8, 2020||LGBTQ Film of the Year||Booksmart||Pending|||
|Dublin Film Critics Circle||December 17, 2019||Best Film||Booksmart||5th place|||
|Best Director||Olivia Wilde||4th place|
|Best Screenplay||Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman||2nd place|
|Golden Globe Awards||January 5, 2020||Best Actress - Musical or Comedy||Beanie Feldstein||Nominated|||
|Gotham Independent Film Awards||December 2, 2019||Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award||Olivia Wilde||Nominated|||
|Hollywood Critics Association Awards||January 9, 2020||Best Picture||Booksmart||Pending|||
|Best Original Screenplay||Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman||Pending|
|Best Female Director||Olivia Wilde||Pending|
|Best Performance by an Actor or Actress 23 and Under||Kaitlyn Dever||Pending|
|Best First Feature||Booksmart||Pending|
|Best Independent Feature||Booksmart||Pending|
|Hollywood Film Awards||November 3, 2019||Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award||Olivia Wilde||Won|||
|Independent Spirit Awards||February 8, 2020||Best First Feature||Booksmart||Pending|||
|IndieWire Critics Polls||December 16, 2019||Best Picture||Booksmart||18th place|||
|Best Actress||Beanie Feldstein||21st place|
|Best First Feature||Booksmart||2nd place|
|Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society||July 1, 2019||Best Picture||Booksmart||Won|||
|Best Actress||Beanie Feldstein||Runner-up|
|Best Supporting Actress||Billie Lourd||Won|
|Best Female Director||Olivia Wilde||Won|
|Best Original Screenplay||Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman||Won|
|Best Indie Film||Booksmart||Won|
|Online Film Critics Awards||January 6, 2020||Best Debut Feature||Olivia Wilde||Won|||
|Palm Springs International Film Festival||November 27, 2018||Directors to Watch||Olivia Wilde||Won|||
|San Francisco International Film Festival||April 24, 2019||Best Narrative Feature||Booksmart||Won|||
|St. Louis Film Critics Association||December 15, 2019||Best Original Screenplay||Booksmart||Nominated|||
|Women Film Critics Circle||December 9, 2019||Best Movie about Women||Booksmart||Nominated|||
|Best Movie by a Woman||Nominated|
|Best Woman Storyteller||Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman||Nominated|
|Best Equality of the Sexes||Booksmart||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||February 1, 2020||Best Original Screenplay||Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman||Pending|||
- Also for Them That Follow
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