BEMIDJI -- "Booksmart," a film directed by Olivia Wilde recently made available for streaming, is full of surprising moments. It's what makes the film one of the better comedies in recent years.
The movie stars Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy. The two are high school seniors who've always played by the rules and have excelled in the classroom. However, Molly's confidence about going to Yale on the day before graduation is smashed when she finds out that the students who go out and party have also earned trips to prestigious schools.
Knowing it's the last night of their high school careers, Amy and Molly decide to go out and attend the last big party with the hope of getting some fun in their lives before graduation. Their journey to the party takes some detours, though.
The one night high school party genre isn't all entirely new. From "Can't Hardly Wait" in 1998 to "Superbad" in 2007, there have been plenty of movies where a group of high schoolers have to make a certain party or a single night the best they've had.
"Booksmart" does in fact use that framework, but the writing is so strong and the story throws enough curve balls to keep it fresh, and, overall, it feels like its own thing. There are many scenes here really coming out of nowhere, and surprises add very well to the comedic impact.
It also helps that the two lead stars knock this out of the park. Dever and Feldstein have superb comedic timing and have an on screen chemistry making their friendship very convincing. Both characters have a good share of quirks and they are played up very well by the stars.
Adding to the movie is a solid supporting cast, including Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte. Sudeikis is especially a standout, delivering in some of the best scenes in the film.
Around the third act "Booksmart" does run out of steam somewhat. There's a feeling the movie could have been trimmed a few minutes. Some genre cliches are also a bit more noticeable in the third act.
While there are some familiar story beats, though, the film never truly falters. The script, written by a team of Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman, is phenomenal. The film develops well and the dialogue between the characters is on point. Credit also has to go to Wilde for bringing everything together nicely in her feature directorial debut.
While it falls into a few genre pitfalls, "Booksmart" is a very strong comedy and is worth a watch. 4 out of 5.