This weekend two movies are making waves: Disney’s Live-Action Aladdin and United Artist’s Booksmart. As a big ol’ Disney fangirl, I saw Aladdin earlier this week but made sure I hit up Booksmart as well. Just because I love me some Disney doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a smart comedy. I had to see what the teens (and critics!) are talking about. Is Booksmart as, well, smart as they claim? How about for your teens? Here’s my Booksmart Parent Movie Review.”
This may get chalked up as “it wasn’t aimed toward you” or “you’re way too old for this movie” when I get to the review part. And maybe that’s somewhat fair and accurate.
I am not the target audience for this movie, but I’d say my teen children are. And I’m not a regular mom so there’s that as well.
Plus I loved the idea that this female written, directed and female lead movie was getting so much love from the critics. I went in expecting to be entertained and blown away, to be honest.
And to be more honest: I was somewhat entertained but definitely not blown away.
Booksmart tells the story of two academic superstar BFFs. We follow their last day of high school leading into graduation, where they realize they worked too hard and didn’t play enough. That sets up the scenario for an epic night that entails a parties, Lyft drivers, a pizza driver heist, and a lot of surprises from their classmates along the way.
Runtime: 104 minutes
While I readily admit that I’m closer in age and temperament to the Lisa Kudrow character than the main characters in this movie, I think I know funny when I see it.
I loved Superbad, for goodness sake- still do!
Kudrow plays Amy’s mom (Kaitlyn Devers) who is just trying to be cool and present without being embarrassing.
The story of my life, folks.
The overall movie is predictable, but that’s to be expected in a teen film. And it’s not what I was disappointed in. I expected the typical rise and fall of a teens identity crisis and possible fracture of friendship to happen.
I was a teen, I have teens, I know teens. And in that respect, Booksmart is cool- it was relatable and realistic to this stage of life, you know, a little dirty and a little nasty at points, but with a heart of gold.
I had high hopes when #allthecritics were raving over this one so admittedly I expected a lot from this movie.
And I didn’t get it.
The acting and directing were excellent, however. Devers and Beanie Feldstein who plays her bestie, Molly, had true chemistry as the super-smart, super high achieving, super-inexperienced-at-anything-other-than school friends.
Their scenes together were all that a high school friendship should be: a little awkward, full of TMI, lots of laughs at the expense of each other, and complete and total support for each other.
They sold it and sold me. And I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of them together.
What didn’t work for me was the influx of side characters who were there to drive the comedy. Their scenes didn’t always make sense (like, seriously, what was going on with Gigi in the first half of this movie?).
This is where I just didn’t think Booksmart is 100% as smart as it’s chalked up to be.
The laugh out loud comedy I hoped for didn’t really kick in until midway through when the girls try to highjack a pizza driver for information. That’s when the movie started to come together and I was able to enjoy the rest of the ride.
Up until then, I was looking at my phone, I was distracted, and I just wasn’t pulled into the movie.
The parts of the movie that I loved were not the comedy, but the true heart of the coming of age/friendship ride or die story. There’s a generation that will grow up seeing themselves and their high school lives on screen for the first time and that’s to be celebrated.
I definitely didn’t hate this movie, I just didn’t get swept away either. There are scenes and moments that I applauded and thought- ahhh, there it is!
But it’s not the whole movie, that’s for sure.
No-Guilt Fangirls Podcast Booksmart Review
When Can You Pee During Booksmart?
I thought there were a couple of moments that would work if you need to hit the bathroom to pee during Booksmart.
As always, make the restroom trip a quick one- but the early part of this movie made missing a few moments not a huge deal.
- When the girls get on the boat for the first party.
- When they leave the boat. Pretty much any part of this scene can be skipped.
- When AAA picks up Molly (this was a nice scene, but it’s toward the end and if you have comfort needs, this works)
- The jail scene (I mean, you know there’s going to be one, and you know the bestie is going get her out of jail!) and car ride after. It’s fun, but if you gotta go, GO.
Are There End Credit Scenes In Booksmart?
There are not any end credits or mid-credit scenes in Booksmart.
If you do stay through the entire credits, you will get a small treat from the graduation singers… but it’s really small and if you have somewhere you need to be, don’t stick around just for this!
Booksmart Parent Movie Review
This is where things get easy in a parent movie review. Or maybe just more complicated? Raising teens, amirite, parents?
So is Booksmart kid-friendly?
Nope. Not for anyone under the age of high school. And that’s debatable; you might want to hold firm to that 17 and above R rating.
On the face of it all, this movie is crass, vulgar in parts, and there’s a crapton of swear words throughout the film. And teen drinking and drug use- you know, the usual teen stuff they put on film. You aren’t going to get around any of that.
When people are comparing it to Superbad, they are spot on in this sense.
Booksmart Parent Movie Review: Sex in Booksmart
Casual sex is addressed multiple times, including one scene where the girls watch porn on their phone (we don’t see it, but we do hear a little of it). There are a couple of makeout scenes and scenes where clothing comes off, though no complete nudity appears.
Except for Barbie doll nudity- we get a healthy discussion about all that. It’s weird, I gotta say, but if you are offended then you probably don’t have naked Barbies in your house anyway and probably aren’t interested in this movie either.
Is Booksmart ok for teens?
Yes or no, depending on your family and how you handle these kinds of issues.
Here’s where it gets hard for me as a mom in this Booksmart parent movie review. Should teens see Booksmart?
I want to say no- no way! See vulgarity and crassness and OMG all the sex talk. And drinking and drugs are promoted as ok to this age. (Also- get off my lawn!)
I’d love to say it’s all movie fiction and completely not how kids act— but I’d be lying. In some ways, it’s similar to Love Simon when it comes to sex and language. True confession: the language, situations, and the characterizations of the teens reminded me of my own high school experiences (and I can’t imagine that’s cleaned itself up over time).
Ahem. Mom- don’t read this.
As easy as it might be to say kids have no need to see this on film, I just can’t say that’s the right answer. But the right answer is easy: If you let your kids see the movie, YOU should see it too. And then you should talk about it.
When it comes to addressing sexuality and friendships, I think Booksmart does an excellent job. There’s also body positivity and acceptance of differences and a whole host of other things kids are dealing with right now.
And this could open a lot of doors for family discussion that is sorely needed these days.
Please, parents, we gotta start talking to these kids about some of these issues they go through.
For the parents: Will you like the movie? Eh. You may not. Or you might gain an understanding of the weirdo who’s living in your house and getting ready to leave you in just a few short years.
Patty Holliday is a movie critic, writer, and podcaster living in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to bridge the gap between casual fandom and picky critic with parent movie and television reviews.