A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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, and 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 and support each other is framed around being confident, smart, and body positive.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 choice. 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 top colleges or have 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, at 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, though, 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 ...
How is sex depicted? Do you think the graphic sex talk is meant to be realistic 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?
- In theaters: May 24, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: September 3, 2019
- Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jason Sudeikis
- Director: Olivia Wilde
- Studios: Annapurna Pictures, United Artists
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content and language throughout, drug use and drinking - all involving teens
- Last updated: December 09, 2019
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