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Booksmart

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Booksmart Movie Poster Image
Superb, smart teen comedy has drinking, strong sex talk.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the irresponsible behavior -- partying, teen drug use, etc -- are well-intentioned messages about everything from non-judgmental portrayals of genders and races to arguments about responsibility vs. fun and the nature and balance of a friendship/what it means to be a good friend. Somewhat mixed message about the value of focusing primarily on studying/academics in high school and not making time for parties/fun.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Molly and Amy are smart and responsible -- and comfortably so (they're not outcasts) -- but over the course of the movie, they learn to be less responsible and more spontaneous. This can be a good thing, but there are many examples of iffy behavior that shouldn't be emulated. That said, they're also feminists, and a lot of how they talk to each other/support each other is framed around being confident, smart, and body positive. Several characters realize that they were making assumptions about other characters and didn't really know each other after all.

Violence

Arguing. A delivery driver tells the main characters how easily he could kidnap them and do terrible things to them and pulls a gun out of his glove compartment to show them he has it.

Sex

Audio from a porn video (panting, moaning). Teens start to have sex in a bathroom (kissing, undressing, fondling, but no nudity). Fairly explicit sex talk/banter, sexual material, and sexual innuendo, including mentions of masturbation, "scissoring," sex dungeons, oral sex, same-sex experiences, manual stimulation, etc. Drawing of a penis. Naked Barbie dolls during animated sequence. Teen girls in bathing suits, revealing outfits. One teen female character is known as "Triple A" because the rumor is she "services" guys in her car (i.e. "roadside assistance"). A teen flirts with a teacher; it's implied that they had sex.

Language

Extremely strong, near-constant language includes "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "a--hole," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "vagina," "d--k," "penis," and "cornhole," plus "Jesus Christ" and "God" (as exclamations). Middle-finger gesture. "N" word heard during songs.

Consumerism

Mentions of Google, Lyft, Jamba Juice, iPad.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen drinking at a party. Teens unknowingly ingest a hallucinogenic drug with strawberries; a "trip" sequence follows. Teen pot smoking. Other brief/mild teen drug use at parties; the police come, and a character is arrested. A tin of "drugs" turns out to be crushed vitamins. The main characters don't typically drink or do drugs (one mentions she once smoked pot and had a horrible experience).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Booksmart is a delightfully intelligent, raucously funny coming-of-age comedy about two responsible high school girls (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) who, on the last day of senior year, decide to go to a party. The movie has the potential to become a classic of the genre, but the mature material gears it toward older teens and adults. Teens inadvertently take a hallucinogenic drug and go on a "trip," and there's teen drinking, pot smoking, and other brief drug use. Language is extremely strong and nearly constant, with many uses of "f--k" "s--t," "bitch," and more. While there's no graphic nudity, audio from a porn video is heard, teen girls start to have sex in a bathroom, and there's pretty explicit sex talk/banter/innuendo, including mentions of masturbation, "scissoring," sex dungeons, oral sex, same-sex experiences, manual stimulation, and more. An animated sequence includes naked Barbie dolls. A delivery driver shows teen girls the gun he has in his glove compartment, but violence isn't an issue otherwise. Amid all of the iffy behavior are strong messages about what it means to be a good friend, and a lot of how the two main characters talk to each other/support each other is framed around being confident, smart, and body positive.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMadre662 May 22, 2019

Better Than Expected

I don't know what my 14yo daughter saw in this movie. The trailer looked terrible, and the comedy style appeared to be (a lot) more inappropriate than funn... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In BOOKSMART, it's the last day of high school for best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever). They've spent the last four years working hard and preparing themselves for bright futures at the colleges of their choices. Then, shockingly, Molly discovers that many of their classmates -- who've spent their high school years having fun and partying -- have also been accepted into either top colleges or landed first-class jobs. Molly decides that, since she and Amy have missed out, they need to go to the biggest year-end party there is. The downside is that they don't actually know where it is. As they go looking, they wind up at a yacht party, a drama-club party, in a cab with their principal, and having more misadventures. But before the end of the night, they'll find even more than they were looking for.

Is it any good?

This wise, funny, compassionate high school comedy succeeds wildly on almost all counts, thanks to its strong, lovable characters and fresh, bracing approach. The feature directing debut by Olivia Wilde, Booksmart recalls nothing less than John Hughes' classic 1980s movies -- especially Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- but without any of their dated, now-cringe-inducing moments. Ironically, through, Booksmart's only flaw is inherited from those movies, in that the adult characters (played by Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, and Jason Sudeikis) are shown as clueless or pathetic, although Jessica Williams rights the balance a bit as a cool teacher.

Booksmart has a modern-day, open-minded take on race and gender identification, and no character is stereotyped. While characters have crushes, the movie's goal isn't romance but rather the complexities of friendship and of life itself (control and chaos). Wilde's achievement could have been mainly character-based and dialogue heavy, but her work behind the camera is dynamic, exciting, and alive, incorporating musical numbers, singing and dancing, stop-motion animation, and some bravura camera moves and editing. For those currently in high school -- and for anyone who remembers it -- Booksmart has the potential to become a classic of the genre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Booksmart depicts teen drinking, smoking, and drug use. Are they glamorized? Do the characters need to do these things to look cool? What are the consequences?

  • How is sex depicted? Do you think the graphic sex talk is meant to be understanding or shocking? What's the difference? What values are imparted?

  • The movie seems to be saying that a little fun mixed with responsibility is OK. Do you agree? What are the arguments for or against?

  • Are Molly and Amy role models? Why or why not?

  • Are the adults in the movie realistic? Are they silly or ridiculous? How do they relate to teens? Do they listen?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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