BOOKSMART – Review by Susan Granger

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Every generation seems to get its own raunchy coming-of-age comedy – like Porky’s, American Pie and Superbad – so actress-turned-first-time-feature director Olivia Wilde delivers this for millennials.

On the last day at Los Angeles’ Crockett High School, snarky best friends/brainiacs Molly (Beanie Feldstein, recognizable as Jonah Hill’s sister) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), accepted at Yale and Columbia, respectively, suddenly realize that – by concentrating only on their grades – they’ve missed out on all the fun.

It seems their playful, slacker peers are also headed to elite schools or great jobs. “They did two things,” Molly marvels, meaning studying and partying, while “We’re the assholes who did only one!”

Determined to spend their last night before graduation making up for lost time, valedictorian Molly convinces social-activist Amy to embark on a raucous evening they’ll never forget. That means crashing the pool party hosted by hunky Nick (Mason Gooding), taking hallucinogenic drugs and experimenting with sex.

Shy, socially awkward Amy only agrees because she has a lesbian crush on skater-punk Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) and winds up on the bathroom floor with ultra-cool Hope (Diana Silvers). Plus there’s ethereal space-cadet Gigi (Billie Lourd, daughter of Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds’ granddaughter) and lonely rich guy Jarek (Skyler Gisondo).

As it turns out, their Lyft driver is their moonlighting school principal (Jason Sudeikis) and their hip teacher (Jessica Williams) hooks up with a classmate.

Sensitively scripted by writer/producer Katie Silberman, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Susanna Fogel, the dialogue and vignettes ring true – and authenticity goes a long way. The characters are recklessly honest and achingly vulnerable, particularly when they discuss gender and sexuality.

Made even more topical because of the recent college cheating scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues, the movie questions the real value of education, advocating finding worth beyond categories and labels.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Booksmart” is a savvy, surreal 7 that, ultimately, turns out to be quite satisfying on the subject of female friendship.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.