Booksmart, a film about type-A++ overachiever BFFs seeking an all-out, wild last hurrah to cram in all of the raucous partying they missed out on during four years of heavy duty high school studying and debate practice, still has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, after 98 counted reviews. And after it finally opens this weekend, Booksmart looks poised to become one of the sleeper comedy hits of the summer. It’s also Fandango’s most-anticipated live-action summer comedy according to their annual moviegoer survey.
This past weekend, roughly 800 exclusive Instagram-driven pre-screenings took place to drum up word of mouth support for the film, and once again, the reception to Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut appears to be unanimous: this movie rocks. No box office figures have been released yet, but when star Billie Lourd sat down with Jimmy Kimmel late last week, he shared the same opinion, leading off the interview with strong praise:
“[Booksmart] is just great, and not only is it great, you’re great in it. And I think it’s going to be one of those movies that every once in a while, seems like every four years or so, there’s a movie that people of a certain age group just identify with and love for the whole rest of their lives, and I think this is going to be one of those movies!”
If Sarah Silverman, Mindy Kaling, Jimmy Kimmel or your entire Instagram or Twitter feed isn’t enough, there’s also Ellen DeGeneres’s endorsement. She launched the film’s latest green band trailer on each of her social channels at 8 a.m. last Friday, to a total reach of 213.4 million followers. In both that trailer, and the new red band trailer, the film leans into its Superbad comparisons, by selecting the review pull quote: “the female Superbad I always wanted.” That same day, the film’s production company Annapurna Pictures posted the first six minutes of the movie too, just to whet your palate with Beanie Feldstein’s dancing and “titular” performance. It goes high brow too, as the New York Times recently ran a piece comparing Booksmart favourably to other teen movies like Mean Girls or Blockers, noting the film is emblematic of “how Hollywood stopped fearing lesbian teens.”
It’s not hot air, either. Since seeing the film at its joyous world premiere in SXSW, I’ve purposely missed the two advance Toronto screenings in order to give it some box office love its opening weekend. While I still feel parts of the film are “overstuffed with exposition and rah rah girl power references,” that hasn’t made me any less thrilled to see it again, pick up on new jokes I may have missed, and laugh with a full crowd. Hitting theatres three weeks after Long Shot (another SXSW favourite of mine), and two weeks after The Hustle (which I so wanted to like more than I did), and two weeks before Late Night, Booksmart hits that comedy sweet spot and serves as great counterprogramming to Aladdin. Opening in a little over 2,300 theatres, it’s the third-biggest release this weekend. Right now, it looks to have legs, and it’s almost being positioned as an underdog theatre-goers should take a chance on. Booksmart doesn’t necessarily have the soul of my darling Lady Bird, but it does have hype on its side, and it’s so very worthy of its A+ reception.