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Film / Booksmart

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Booksmart is a 2019 Coming of Age Buddy Picture directed by Olivia Wilde (in her directorial debut).

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein star as Amy and Molly, two overachievers who realize on the day before high school graduation that they focused on school to the exclusion of all other life experiences and decide to attend a Wild Teen Party that night to make up for it. Hilarity Ensues.

Booksmart contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Discussed extensively by the pizza delivery guy when Amy and Molly try harassing him for information. Once he figures out how young they are he points out the stupidity of getting into a stranger's car, even producing a gun he carries for protection and explaining what he could do to them in return before kicking them out. He later turns out to be a genuine serial killer with a wanted poster at the police station, Molly uses that information to get Amy out of jail.
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  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Hope is tall, brunette and very standoffish, making a few cutting comments about Amy's behavior. She's also the only classmate who rebuffs Molly's demand to know where everyone is going to college. Amy manages to melt some of her icy aloofness.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Amy is frustrated by her inability to figure out whether Ryan is into girls. At the party, Ryan seems to be romantically interested in Amy, but later she starts making out with Nick. It's never revealed with Ryan is bi or just heterosexual.
    • Gigi is so off the rails the entire movie it's hard to get any lock on her sexuality, but she did show an odd attachment to Amy early on.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Molly attempts a "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the three students she overhears trash talking her, Annabelle has a response that brings her up short.
    Molly: don't care about school.
    Annabelle: No. We just don't only care about school.
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  • Auto Erotica: Annabelle/Triple A admits to sleeping with a bunch of guys in cars because it's practical.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Lampshaded when Molly and Amy hallucinate being turned into plastic dolls; they comment about their lack of attributes or genitals.
  • Bad Liar: Amy is a self-confessed terrible liar - when Jared weirds them out when giving her and Molly a lift, she starts making up a ridiculous story about needing to leave because their friend hit a possum. She even asks Molly to lie to her parents for her about sleeping over at her house because she feels bad and gives herself away.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: Molly hears three classmates gossiping about her while in the stall of the school's unisex bathroom. This instigates the plot.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Amy and Hope have an argument at the party, which veers suddenly into a romantic encounter.
  • Berserk Button: Gigi doesn't like it if you talk shit about her friends - Jared mentions that Gigi once tried to shank a mailman for laughing at him (he wasn't - he was looking at cat memes), and we see he isn't exaggerating earlier in the movie when she thinks a waiter is making fun of Amy, she grabs a champagne bottle and smashes it to threaten him with. (She was drunk at the time and Amy lampshades that they barely know each other, but still.)
  • Black Comedy Burst: In a film free of violence and death, the girls' run-in with the pizza guy who begins getting really specific about what he could do to them (and his gun) stands out. Later, it's revealed he's apparently a serial killer, and the girls using this knowledge to their advantage is Played for Laughs.
  • Break the Haughty: Molly gets it early in the movie when she hears her classmates trash-talking her and discovers that for all her intelligence, her classmates got into the good schools as well and her sense of superiority quickly crumbles when she realises she sacrificed having fun for proving she's smarter than everyone else.
  • Buddy Picture: A rare female version. The focus of the story is on Molly and Amy's relationship.
  • Camp Gay: Alan, one of Amy and Molly's classmates in theater class, is quite flaming. His boyfriend George is obviously gay himself, but not quite as camp.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Amy generally has a hard time being forthright about what she wants - she's pretty much incapable of telling her crush Ryan that she likes her, it's partly because she didn't explain to Molly that she saw Nick and Ryan kissing when she wants to leave the party that triggers off their big fight and she only tells Molly the truth about Boswana under extreme duress.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Molly and Amy's unfamiliarity about lesbian sex becomes an actual plot point when Amy tries to get it on with Hope and makes a mess out of it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Amy and Molly's fake library IDs and Ms. Fine's number.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The pizza delivery man is a serial killer, and Molly hands over information about him to get Amy out of jail in the end.
  • Cringe Comedy: The movie veers into this at times, such as Amy and Molly's teacher accidentally overhearing them listening to porn, or Amy's mother kissing her toy panda...that she regularly uses to masturbate with.
  • Cool Teacher: Deconstructed with Ms. Fine, who is close with and supportive of Molly and Amy, gives them a ride and a change of clothes when they get stranded, and even attends the Wild Teen Party, but she does this because she clearly feels dissatisfied with leaving her younger days behind and tries to reclaim some of it by attending the party, which has disastrous consequences for her when she gives in to temptation and and hooks up with Theo, her former student, something she very much regrets doing the next day when she's sobered up.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gigi is in her own little world, rattling off bizarre comments, taking naps in random places, and acting like Amy and Molly are her best friends even though they've never even spoken to each other until the film. It's possible that some of this is drug and alcohol induced (she does ask for rubbing alcohol at Nick's party because none of the drinks are strong enough) but you get the sense that this is her genuine personality.
    Gigi: I lost my virginity in what I thought was a park, but it turned out to be a graveyard, and now the ghost spirits live inside my eggs waiting to be reborn.
  • Coming of Age: Amy and Molly are graduating and learning how to become adults.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Amy admits to humping her toy panda, and Molly admits to masturbating with an electric toothbrush, which gave her a UTI.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Amy's crush Ryan is more interested in Molly's crush Nick, but they both find other people.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Amy and Molly hide in the back of a pizza delivery man's car and try to force him to give them the address of the big party. The man admonishes them on how stupid it is for teen girls to get into a stranger's car, noting that they put more attention on using their hair as disguises than on the potential danger.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Valley Strangler seems genuinely concerned at the girls' naivety about Stranger Danger, though we don't know whether this is due to their age or some other reason.
  • Extreme Doormat: Amy tends to go along with whatever Molly decides, even when she doesn't want to. This ends up triggering off their big fight when Amy wants to leave the party but Molly refuses to do so.
  • Fanservice:
    • There's quite a long sequence of Amy swimming underwater in her underwear, alongside everyone else in the pool also in their underwear.
    • There's a lingering shot of Annabelle's ass when she snarkily points out her shorts don't have pockets.
  • Forceful Kiss: Amy gives one to Hope at the party. It works, for a short time anyway.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Ryan, which adds to the conundrum of her sexuality.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Amy has several of them in her of which she admits to humping.
  • Good Parents: Amy's parents seem very loving towards their daughter, albeit a bit weirded out when they think she's in a sexual relationship with Molly, but they do their best to be supportive anyway.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Amy and Molly use their research skills to try to triangulate the location of the Wild Teen Party at the library, but midway through, they figure out a shortcut.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Amy and Molly are inseparable, and their relationship is purely platonic, even though Amy is a lesbian.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • The instigating moment of the plot is when Molly discovers that many of her classmates whom she assumed spent all their time partying were also perfecting valuable skills and are now going off to prestigious colleges or careers.
    • Late in the film, Molly discovers that Jared has more depth and intelligence than she'd realized, which prompts her to kiss him in the end.
    • Annabelle is actually hurt by people calling her "Triple A" and asks Molly not to repeat that nickname at Yale because she wants to be known by her actual name.
    • Gigi is dismissed by the protagonists as one of the "one percent", but she's actually a pretty nice person under all the crazy, manages some serious Offscreen Teleportation and accurately deduces that Molly is secretly crushing hard on Nick despite being drunk off her ass and having taken drugs at the time. Seems she got into Harvard for reasons other than her money.
    • There was a certain assumption that since Amy and Molly never went to parties and their text messages were being ignored that they were just not invited, expecting a Record Needle Scratch the moment they walked inside. Instead most people were happy to see them there, and very quick to welcome them in and invite them to play games.
  • Hot for Teacher: Theo has a crush on Ms. Fine and ultimately hooks up with her at the party, which she later regrets.
  • Hypocrite: Molly identifies herself as a feminist, yet she also engages in casual Slut-Shaming as she also uses the nickname "Triple A" and is fairly dismissive about Gigi as well. Character Development shows her growing out of this and she sincerely apologises to Annabelle over her previous behaviour.
  • Idealized Sex: Discussed and explored, Amy came out as a lesbian two years previously but has had no romantic partners and a very basic understanding of lesbian sex. Molly tries talking about "scissoring" without really knowing what that entails, and streams porn on her own phone for research. When Amy and Hope start getting intimate in the bathroom, Amy is notably very nervous, which only throws her coordination off and she was stimulating the wrong spot. Hope is actually understanding, at least until Amy throws up on her.
  • Idiot Savant:
    • Theo has been held back twice in school and is finally graduating high school at the age of 20, but is such a good programmer that he's been immediately offered a job at Google.
    • Gigi is an unpredictable Cloud Cuckoolander who is also an actress, has an encyclopedic knowledge of various drugs, is extremely perceptive of everyone's fears and weaknesses, and is shown at graduation to be a piano virtuoso.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun:
    • Molly bumps into Nick when he's playing a "game" that he says is really complicated, but really just consists of trying to catch food in his mouth.
    • Amy and Molly's idea of having a good time is going to the library. They have fake IDs just so they can get into UCLA's library.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Molly seems dismayed when she hallucinates gets a Barbie-doll body, asking, "Where's my chub?" and insisting to Amy that they are better than that, but later admits that "girls like her" don't get guys like Nick, showing that her "empowerment" and go-getter personality really just boils down to bravado to cover up her insecurities. She realises this in herself by the end of the movie and mellows out towards both her peers and herself.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Molly means well when she makes Amy go with her to the party, as she accurately points out that Amy would never go out and do anything without her, but she's oblivious to how bossy and controlling she can be until Amy blows up at her.
  • Invisible Parents: Unlike with Amy's, we never see Molly's parents and they aren't mentioned, even in passing.
  • It Amused Me: Molly likes to pretend she and Amy are in a sexual relationship because it weirds out her parents.
  • It's All About Me: Our introduction to Molly involves a mindfulness routine centered around a self-help tape that hearkens the viewer as being better than everyone else, ending on a venomous "FUCK THEM." She constantly dismisses other classmates as underachivers, lazy assholes, and just plain stupid; the realization that people she'd written off as dolts heading to community college are really getting into universities comparable to her Ivy League shakes her to her core, and triggers the events of the film. At its climax, she brushes off Amy's "Malala" call as Amy being selfish and trying to be self-centered. Naturally, the resulting argument has Amy rip her a new one for this. In addition, her pre-prepared and "first" speech at the end is an extremely self-important #MeToo-esque declaration against white men, while completely missing the spirit of the #MeToo movement.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Exaggerated. Amy and Molly are going to Yale, but Molly discovers that most of her classmates are going to the very top schools in the country, including Gigi who guiltily states that she's going to Harvard, her "fifth choice." It's a plot point that Molly assumed everyone else were underachievers which triggers the events of the movie, their logic is other people partied only to still succeed there was no reason for them not to have fun themselves.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • She's not nice about it, but Annabelle has a point that it's not fair that Molly and Amy are blatantly allowed to use their phones in class by being a Teacher's Pet.
    • Molly angrily points out that if it wasn't for her, Amy would sit around at home and never do anything on her own and calls her a coward. While it was harsh, she's not wrong that Amy's timid nature and how easy it is to boss her around gets her into trouble.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hope is pretty cold to the duo throughout the movie, and is downright cruel to Amy during the party. However, after Amy kisses her and the two start to make out, she is shown to be a quite caring lover, advising Amy to stop when she gets too tired and getting concerned when she gets sick. She understandably freaks out when Amy vomits on her, but reconciles with her later and even gives her her phone number.
  • Lonely at the Top: Jared and Gigi are both obscenely wealthy, but most people don't even bother with them. Jared outright calls Gigi an extremely lonely person, and Molly has to point out that the reason people aren't fond of him is because he tries to buy everyone's friendship.
  • Medium-Shift Gag: The Mushroom Samba mentioned below is done in stop-motion animation.
  • Mushroom Samba: Amy and Molly eat some drugged strawberries, which later causes them to hallucinate that they've become Barbie dolls.
  • No Antagonist: There's no outright villain in the movie, with everyone who initially dismissed Amy and Molly warming up to them once the two start to relax and let loose.
  • Not So Above It All: Molly and Amy are of course intelligent, ambitious young women, but they prove they are just as susceptible to making impulsive, idiotic decisions that are completely typical of teenagers, regardless of how superior they (especially Molly) think they are to their peers.
  • Noodle Incident: Ms. Fine did something so heinous in her twenties that she is banned from every Jamba Juice in the country.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Gigi turns up at all three parties the main duo attends, none the worse for wear despite having jumped into the ocean earlier. They lampshade it by asking her how she even got there.
    Molly: How are you dry?
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After arguing with Molly, Amy becomes a lot more aggressive and daring, kissing Hope in the bathroom and distracting the cops.
  • The Oner: Starting from when Amy leaves the swimming pool, all the way until the end of her and Molly's fight. It's especially impressive given the acting chops the scene required.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Until near the end of the movie, we only know Annabelle as "Triple A".
  • Open-Minded Parent: Both of Amy's parents are okay with her being a lesbian, but have a tendency to go in the opposite direction and be so supportive it becomes off-putting.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Gigi and Jared are best friends, mostly because they are very lonely and their peers ignore them.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: The second-act turning point is a nasty argument between Molly and Amy in which they air their simmering grievances with each other's behavior. They make up in the end.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Had Amy been more clear that the reason she wanted to leave the party was because she saw Nick and Ryan kissing, Molly might have been more understanding instead of assuming Amy was just freaking out over nothing.
    • Molly and Amy ask Gigi where the party is, but she misunderstands them and directs them to Alan's murder mystery party instead.
  • The Power of Friendship: It's a Buddy Picture about female bonding.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Theo easily has the longest hair in the entire movie, even longer than most of the girl's.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • When Amy and Molly try to "mug" a pizza delivery man of an address, they fashion their hair into balaclava-like masks and scream demands at him from his back seat, expecting him to surrender. Instead, the plan immediately falls apart when the he angrily points out that they don't have a weapon, meaning that he's the one in control.
    • Amy and Hope’s make out scene is portrayed as incredibly awkward, due to it being Amy’s first time. She has a hard time taking off Hope's tight jeans and shoes and puts her finger into “the wrong hole”.
    • Amy and Molly take a long time to reach Nick's party because they don't know where he lives - Amy even points out they never talk to most of the other people in their grade unless it's for scholastic purposes.
    • Using her phone to watch porn in the taxi means that Molly runs out of battery far quicker than she would have normally, which she discovers just after Amy leaves hers behind.
    • Molly kept quiet about her crush on Nick because she hates having feelings for a popular Dumb Jock and says there's no way a guy like him would be interested in her. She's right.
  • Really Gets Around: Annabelle is called "Triple-A" because of the "roadside assistance" she's provided to many boys in school. She states that, while she has had sex with many guys in cars, it's just a practical place to have sex, there's more to her than her promiscuity.
  • Recycled Premise: The broad strokes of the film are a Gender Flip of Superbad: Two unhip high school kids are about to graduate, so they spend an epic night trying to attend a big house party to meet up with their respective crushes, but ultimately must reconcile with the fact that one of them is departing after graduation and breaking up the friendship. Fittingly, Beanie Feldstein plays the equivalent character her brother Jonah Hill plays in Superbad.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Played for Drama with Molly and Amy, as their huge fight in the movie stems from Molly running roughshod over Amy and Amy being too timid to make any decisions and lies to Molly about extending her trip to Botswana for a year.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Late in the film, "Roadside Assistance" DOES state she did, indeed, sucked off three guys after their car broke down, but because the car is a better place to have sex. ...and not because the car broke down.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Molly's aim is to attend Yale and become a Supreme Court justice, and she's the one who discovers that everyone who's been partying all through high school will become as successful as her. Around the time the film was being shot, Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing for his nomination to the Supreme Court was underway and delved into his hard-partying history very extensively. Appropriately, Kavanaugh also went to Yale.
  • Rule of Three: Amy and Molly end up at the wrong party twice before finding the correct one.
  • Running Gag: Everywhere Amy and Molly go, Gigi is already there.
  • Sad Clown: Jared suggests Gigi is this, as she acts like a lunatic to hide her true emotions.
  • Sarcasm Failure: After getting yelled at by the pizza delivery man for getting into his car without any thought to their self-preservation, Amy and Molly ask him for a ride over to the party. He agrees, which they're happy to hear, but then he immediately says that he was being sarcastic and orders them to leave, again reminding them not to trust strangers.
  • Shipper on Deck: Molly tries to encourage Amy to talk to Ryan, but with very mixed results.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Amy shuts down Hope's cruel taunts at her Extreme Doormat behaviour by snapping back that Hope is just a hot girl who has already reached her peak in high school, something that stuns Hope into silence.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Amy and Hope at the party.
  • Slut-Shaming: Annabelle's nickname in school is "Triple A" (for the American Automotive Assistance "AAA" corporation) for offering supposed roadside assistance to a number of guys but obviously did more than that. She later reveals to Holly how much she hates that nickname, as she genuinely did help them, although it was sexual too. What hurt her most is she expected the guys to catch on to that nickname, but didn't realize how much the girls would do it too.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Hope, played by 5'10½ Diana Silvers.
  • Stepford Smiler: Jared tries to act positive and upbeat, even though nobody at the school besides Gigi really likes him. He knows it.
  • Straight Gay: Despite being out for two years, Amy hasn't kissed a girl until the party. She is also is comparatively more mature, more withdrawn and less lewd than Molly. At the end, it turns out that Hope is this too, or possibly bisexual.
  • Stranger Danger: The pizza delivery man repeatedly yells at Amy and Molly for not understanding the danger they open themselves up to from strangers. He's correct to warn them, since it later turns out that he's a serial killer himself.
  • Straw Feminist: Discussed, and explored. Amy, and especially Molly, are culturally-savvy, mainstream-leftist girls in the vein of Hillary Clinton's supporters, and reference everything from #MeToo to various waves of feminism. Amy (and, again, especially Molly) also have their heads stuck up their ass about it (Amy's planning to spend the summer in Botswana (a country in a continent that isn't known for its progressiveness) to teach women to make their own tampons and Molly's speech is a generic call to action against straight white men) and are hypocritical (joining in the gossiping against "Roadside Assistance" for "sucking off three guys"). However, much of the film shows that the girls mean well, and it's made clear the message is not "feminism is negative", but "being progressive does not absolve you of your personal failings".
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Amy and Molly to harass the pizza delivery guy for information, he instead berates them for being so stupid as to get in someone's car, as he has a gun in the glove box. He briefly goes into more detail over what he could possibly do to them before telling them to leave. It turns out he is a serial killer.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Subverted when Molly dresses down three gossiping classmates by rubbing their noses in her future success, only to find out that their futures are all as bright as hers.
    • Hope attempts to give one to Amy in the bathroom, but Amy fires back with a Shut Up, Hannibal!.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Jared, after spending the movie being mocked and ignored by his peers, is asked to sub for Molly when she's late to her graduation speech and gets not only some genuine applause, but a protracted snog from Molly when she shows up.
  • Tomboy: Ryan, a girl with a Gender-Blender Name who skateboards everywhere and seems to hang out mostly with guys. Amy has a crush on her, but can't figure out what her sexual orientation is.
  • Too Much Information: Molly tells Amy that she once masturbated with an electric toothbrush and got an infection. Amy doesn't want to hear about it, especially because Molly has already told this story a lot.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Molly has been secretly nursing a crush on Nick for a long time, something even Amy didn't know, and Molly explains she doesn't want to give into it because he's an idiot and she also knows there's no way he would be interested in her.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used on Holly in the bathroom scene, immediate after learning her classmates were also going to prestigious schools. Done to highlight her subsequent Freak Out!.
  • Wild Teen Party: The duo spend most of the movie trying to attend one, which is being live-tweeted as they struggle to find it.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Implied with the pizza guy, as he points out to Amy and Molly after accurately deducing they are underage, that he has a gun and they didn't think their hostage situation through. Later, it turns out he's a serial killer and could have easily murdered them right there if he wanted to. He even lampshades how somebody could kill them, leave their body under a freeway and they'd be discovered by dogwalkers the next morning.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Molly's crush on Nick is outed by Gigi, she admits to Amy that she knows he's a dumb jock, but she also says she knows he'd never be interested in someone like her. Amy gives her a Bright Slap and tells her she won't tolerate someone talking about her best friend that way.

Example of: