When I settled into the red plush reclining chair at my local AMC movie theater this past week, ticket clutched in my hand, I was not sure what to expect of the movie I'd just paid to see. Flanking my two best friends, I'd lured them to the theater with the promise of an enjoyable day watching a movie that I'd heard so many great things about. We'd gotten up early to catch the 11:00 AM showing of 'Booksmart', and made up half of the audience that had joined us that morning.
I was nervous. From what I'd seen about this movie, it seemed to be another coming-of-age teen comedy full of raunchy jokes and explicit language. It was nothing I wasn't used to at nearly twenty years old. But there was something holding me back. I was afraid that this movie might have some underlying, problematic theme about female friendships or smart, driven girls like its two female protagonists. I always like to give a movie the benefit of the doubt if I didn't immediately enjoy it, or even if it finished and my friends tore it to shreds. My friends and I had been in the same vein as Amy and Molly; would we enjoy this movie if it ridiculed them, and by extension, us? The classic trope of the 'uncool' kids becoming cool for a day has been present in film for years; what if this movie was no exception?
But as 'Booksmart' began with a feminist meditation, followed by Amy and Molly dancing about outside on their way to school, I felt all of my worries begin to melt away. Seeing their ambition, their achievements, coupled with their goofiness and genuine friendship, I started to see myself. I could relax; this wasn't about to be the movie I was afraid of it being.
'Booksmart' captures the true essence of the hard-working high-school student, with all the gravity and all the comedy combined. We follow Molly and Amy on their misadventures as they bounce from party to party, worried about who they'll see and what will happen while still intending to have one last night of fun for the first time in their high school careers. Their motivation was easy to relate to as the girl whose idea of a fun night in high school was reading a good book or maybe hanging out with my friends at a football game in the fall. No parties, no wildness, and definitely no risk.
By the time the film ended and we see Molly and Amy head off on their separate, equally inspiring ways, I wanted to cry. From laughter, from emotion, from feeling seen. Representation is big for all kinds of people, from seeing people that look the way you do to seeing people that live life the same way you do. And 'Booksmart' was that for me. It was the tribute to high school that I could finally relate to. I might not have had the same romance as Sam and Austin in 'A Cinderella Story' or even the same fun trips as Lara Jean and Peter in 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before', but I have had close friendships over the years of maintaining my position on the high honor roll.
But that isn't the only great thing about 'Booksmart'. The teenagers in the movie actually looked, spoke, acted like real teenagers. The comedy was written with pure gold. The emotional scenes were entirely realistic, from fights between friends to teen heartbreak. It starred two women as protagonists, was directed by a woman, and features all the aspects of an authentic female experience during this most pivotal of times. And while we all may not get to say we rolled up late to graduation in a souped-up car to our peers' amazement, we can all say that 'Booksmart' has something for anyone who's been a teenager in the past two decades.