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Thursday
Mar 14 2019

SXSW: Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in "Booksmart"

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from the SXSW Festival

Everyone loves a buddy comedy – usually.It's rare that such films are both crowd-pleasing and critically well-received,since entertainment value doesn't always go hand-in-hand with quality.Though its detractors would surely disagree,Superbadis a great example of a film that,while inherently stupid,manages to be intelligent and funny in its portrayal of two teenagers trying desperately to have sex before the end of high school.It's fitting that Jonah Hill's younger sister Beanie Feldstein,who is close to the age he was when he made that film in 2007,is one of the two stars of a new buddy comedy that feels particularly forward-focused.

InBooksmart,Feldstein plays Molly,the class president and valedictorian whose need to point out other people's mistakes and shortcomings earns her few friends.She has the only friend she needs in Amy,played by Kaitlyn Dever,who shares her passion for homework and whose social skills are only moderately more palpable...

On the eve of their graduation,Molly is horrified to realize that everyone she thought was slacking off around her is actually headed for a bright educational future.Determined to do something they haven't done – and eager to help facilitate Amy hooking up with her crush,a girl named Ryan – Molly insists that they go to their first party,leading to a wild night with more than a few unexpected and unintended developments.

It's not common to see a movie like this with two actresses top billed,and what a welcome change it is!This marks Olivia Wilde's feature directorial debut,and,judging by audience reaction at a SXSW screening,it's a tremendous hit.The antics and language usually reserved for boys and men are adopted by these two smart protagonists whose thoughts aren't necessarily any purer even if their regular behavior is unusually mature for their age.Booksmartcontains some fantastic and very funny references to modern themes about sexuality and relationships,which feel far from forced as these characters broadcast them to anyone who will (or won't) listen.

Feldstein,who played the title character's best friend inLady Birdand appeared inHello,Dollyon Broadway,is sure to net many more film roles like this.Dever,who has impressed under Southern garb deep in the woods in the likes ofJustifiedandThem That Follow,demonstrates that she's more than capable of anchoring a mainstream film.Together,they're a formidable pair,with just as much platonic chemistry as Hill and Michael Cera.Skyler Gisondo and Billie Lourd are particularly memorable among Molly and Amy's classmates,but they're just two members of what's a terrific ensemble cast.Like the other films in its subgenre thatBooksmartemulates,it has a tendency to go overboard and test the lines of believability,but it does so in the best way,making a social point in the process of achieving true hilarity,the latter of which is strongest test of quality in comedy.

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Reader Comments (7)

I'm really excited for Beanie - I thought she had amazing comedic chops in Lady Bird.She has a bright future.

March 14,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I've been on the Kaitlyn Dever hype train since Bad Teacher,so I am all the way on board with this.

March 14,2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I am interested in seeing this,but surprised at the lack of the de rigueur Short Term 12 reference.

March 14,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

I totally want to see this.This looks fun.Plus,I love Beanie Feldstein.She's so awesome.Good for Olivia Wilde to get on board behind the camera.

March 14,2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I've watched this trailer 5 times and laugh harder each time at "Shotgun!Just kidding.I don't have one."and "We'll probably just do Korean Face Masks.""I don't need to know all the words."This looks fabulous!Can't wait.

March 14,2019 | Unregistered CommenterTroy

I love that they got Jonah Hill's sister - who's comedic chops are matching that of her brother's - to play the female equivalent of him.This looks right up my street!

March 14,2019 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

Lady Bird was dreadful but Beanie Feldstein had such a natural presence on the film.Everything felt so forced and fake (especially Ronan and Metcalf) but everytime she had a scene the whole movie came down to Earth.While this looks quite funny,I hope she gets to do more roles like the one in LB,though hopefully being in an actual good movie.

March 15,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

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