|Directed by||Olivia Wilde|
|Music by||Dan the Automator|
|Distributed by||United Artists Releasing|
|Box office||$25 million|
Booksmart is a 2019 American coming-of-age buddy 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 $25 million. For her performance, Feldstein was nominated for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
High school seniors Amy and Molly, longtime best friends, are accomplished but considered pretentious by their peers. Amy is out and has a crush on a girl named Ryan; Molly urges her to pursue the relationship before they graduate. On the eve of graduation, Molly confronts classmates insulting her bookishness in the bathroom, telling them she got into Yale. However, they reveal that, despite their partying, they too got into prestigious colleges and job recruitments. Furious, Molly tells Amy they should have enjoyed their time in high school more. She proposes they go to a graduation party held by classmate Nick, and Amy reluctantly agrees.
Not knowing the party's address, Molly calls Jared, a wealthy classmate who likes her. He instead brings them to his own party aboard a yacht; only his drug-crazed friend Gigi is there, who feeds the girls strawberries before jumping off the yacht. Amy suggests they go home, but Molly calls a "Malala," their code for unconditionally supporting what the other wants to do.
The girls call a Lyft and are shocked to be picked up by their principal, Jordan Brown. To prepare Amy for potential sex with Ryan, Molly insists they watch pornography, which accidentally plays through the car speakers. Brown drops them off at what they think is Nick's aunt's house but turns out to be the home of their classmate George, who is hosting a murder mystery party. They encounter Gigi, who reveals that the strawberries were laced with powerful hallucinogenic drugs. Amy and Molly experience a bad trip and hallucinate that they are plastic fashion dolls. They escape George's house, but Gigi reveals that Molly secretly likes Nick.
Despite wanting to go home, Amy insists they press on so Molly can consummate her crush on Nick. They see pizza boxes in an online video of Nick's party and acquire the address by threatening the pizza delivery man. Molly calls their favorite teacher, Miss Fine, who gives them a ride to Nick's party.
Once at the party, Amy and Molly are surprised to find they are warmly welcomed. Molly and Nick flirt over beer pong and Amy finally spends time with Ryan. Unfortunately, Amy soon finds Ryan making out with Nick. Heartbroken and desperate to leave, she finds Molly and calls her own "Malala,” which Molly - who didn't see Nick with Ryan - refuses because she thinks she still has a chance with Nick. Amy angrily reveals that she is not just spending the summer in Botswana but taking an entire gap year there because she resents how Molly always tries to control her life. The two argue in front of the entire party.
Amy runs to the bathroom, finding her classmate Hope there; they are initially argumentative until Amy kisses her. They start to have sex, but Amy vomits on Hope. Jared and Molly have a heartfelt conversation about how no one at school really knows them. Cops arrive at the party and then everyone scatters. Unable to find Amy, Molly is driven home by Triple A, a popular student with a promiscuous reputation, and they bond over the stereotypes they both have endured.
Waking up on graduation day, Molly checks her phone and discovers her classmates praising Amy for creating a diversion at the party, allowing everyone to escape the police while getting herself arrested. Molly visits Amy in jail and apologizes for her manipulative actions, and they reconcile. Learning the pizza delivery man is a serial killer, they trade that information to free Amy, then take Jared's car to graduation. 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 visits to give Amy her phone number. Molly drives Amy to the airport where they share a tearful goodbye. As Molly drives away, Amy jumps in front of her car, deciding she still has time to hang out before her flight; they ecstatically decide to get pancakes.
- 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 Principal Jordan Brown
- Billie Lourd as Gigi
- Diana Silvers as Hope
- Skyler Gisondo as Jared
- Molly Gordon as Annabelle aka "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 complementary language the characters use to Feldstein, who frequently posted "I have no breath" to Instagram.
The animated dolls sequence was created over five months by a team of thirty people. Wilde had voiced a character on the series Bojack Horseman and contacted ShadowMachine the animation studio behind Bojack to create the sequence. Due to script rewrites, parts of the animated scene involving a Roomba and a scene showing glitter vomit were cut from the film.
The score for Booksmart was composed by Dan the Automator. Although he had assisted with the scores of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) and Money Monster (2016), Booksmart was the first full film score that Dan composed for a major US film.
Booksmart premiered at the South by Southwest film festival on March 10, 2019. It was then released theatrically in the United States on May 24, 2019 by Annapurna Pictures under its United Artists label. United Artists also utilized an Instagram campaign to sell tickets to a total of 800 advanced screenings across the country on May 17, 2019. While some film analysts predicted that Booksmart would have its theatrical release in the fall, following the trend of previous R-rated, female-centered films Lady Bird and The Edge of Seventeen, Annapurna decided on a wide release over Memorial Day weekend in order to build on the word-of-mouth traction they had generated from the festival premiere.
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.
Director J.J. Abrams asked: "When you have a movie that's as entertaining, well-made, and well-received as 'Booksmart' not doing the business it should have [the teen comedy underperforming at the box office despite critics' raves], it really makes you realize that the typical Darwinian fight to survive is completely lopsided now. Everyone's trying to figure out how we protect the smaller films that aren't four-quadrant mega-releases. Can they exist in the cinema?"
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 96% based on 367 reviews, with an average rating of 8.29/10. 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 52 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%. In December 2018, Rotten Tomatoes named Booksmart the #1 comedy of the decade on the site, using an adjusted formula that weighed multiple factors, including a film's release year and 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". John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called the film a "hilarious, blazingly paced teen comedy." Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it a "refreshingly original take on the raunchy coming-of-age comedy" and praising Feldstein and Dever's chemistry. Alissa Wilkinson of Vox awarded the film a score of four out of five, writing that the "memorably relatable" Booksmart is also a "delightful reminder that growing up is about realizing nobody's a stereotype".
Linda Holmes of NPR gave an especially favorable review, calling the film "a humane and heartfelt film without a mean bone in its figurative body". Vulture's Emily Yoshida also favorably wrote that it "manages to be inclusive and progressive, without being precious about anything or sacrificing an ounce of humor". A. O. Scott of The New York Times regarded the film as "sharp but not mean, warm without feeling too soft or timid", and referring to Feldstein and Dever as "a classic comedy duo". Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal deemed Booksmart a "prodigy", stating that no film that was "funnier, smarter, quicker or more joyous has graced the big screen in a long time."
Booksmart was included on 68 critics' top-ten lists, and on two lists was ranked in first place.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Austin Film Critics Association||January 6, 2020||Best First Film||Booksmart||Won|||
|British Academy Film Awards||February 2, 2020||Best Original Screenplay||Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman||Nominated|||
|BAFTA Rising Star Award||Kaitlyn Dever||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||December 14, 2019||Milos Stehlik Breakthrough Filmmaker Award||Olivia Wilde||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Awards||January 12, 2020||Best Comedy||Booksmart||Nominated|||
|Detroit Film Critics Society||December 9, 2019||Breakthrough||Kaitlyn Dever||Nominated[a]|||
|Dorian Awards||January 8, 2020||LGBTQ Film of the Year||Booksmart||Nominated|||
|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|
|GLAAD Media Awards||March 19, 2020||Outstanding Film – Wide Release||Booksmart||Won|||
|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||Nominated|||
|Best Original Screenplay||Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman||Nominated|
|Best Female Director||Olivia Wilde||Won|
|Best Performance by an Actor or Actress 23 and Under||Kaitlyn Dever||Won|
|Best First Feature||Booksmart||Nominated|
|Best Independent Feature||Booksmart||Nominated|
|Hollywood Film Awards||November 3, 2019||Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award||Olivia Wilde||Won|||
|Independent Spirit Awards||February 8, 2020||Best First Feature||Booksmart||Won|||
|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|||
|The ReFrame Stamp||February 26, 2020||2019 Top 100-Grossing Narrative Feature Recipients||Booksmart||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||Nominated|||
- Also for Them That Follow
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