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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Lutheran chapter.

*Warning: Movie Spoilers Included*

Booksmart (2019), directed by Olivia Wilde and starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, is the best coming of age movie ever made. It is as simple as that. My experience with this movie is something that has ultimately changed my life, and how I not only perceive myself but the people around me.  

I first watched this movie on June 4, 2019, with one of my best friends.  We had graduated high school together only a couple weeks earlier, and so this movie about the last days of high school that had an actual understanding of what high school is currently like was much appreciated. I will never forget how much we laughed, how we cried at certain scenes or related certain characters to people we knew in our own school. It was the perfect movie that captured how we felt transitioning from high school to college.  

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever star as Molly and Amy, two best friends who have spent their high school careers making it to the top of their class, only to realize they’ve missed out on their teenage years because they were too busy caring about school. The story follows them on a journey to make up everything they’ve missed the night before graduation.

What makes Molly and Amy different from the “nerd”  archetypes you typically see in movies is their own acknowledgment of it and not caring what others think. Molly is the class president and is unashamed to tell her classmates that she worked hard to get to where she is now and will continue to do so, no matter how much she gets made fun of. Amy is an activist, who, compared to Molly, is more introverted. Yet she will speak up on things she feels are wrong, no matter how many people agree with her.  Together, Molly and Amy represent girls who are flawed, yet well-grounded and motivated. 


remote control turning on the tv
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters from Unsplash

I see myself within Molly because she is plus-sized. However, compared to other plus-sized girls in popular media, her weight doesn’t define her.  It is never brought up as a punchline for a joke, nor does it exclude her from having a love interest. When Molly says that guys like Nick, who is a popular jock, don’t look at girls like her I felt a pain in my heart, because, intentional or not, I understood exactly what she meant as a plus-sized girl. Yet her crush on Nick doesn’t seem like an impossible reach in the movie, and although they don’t end up together in the end, Molly still ends up with someone who truly cares about her and appreciates her passion.

Yet, I also see myself within Amy because she is sapphic. I have definitely had my moments of liking a girl so much that I did embarrassing things, like when Amy was trying to hint at her sexuality to Ryan at Nick’s party. Having a sapphic character as a lead without being overly sexualized is so important LGBTQ+ youth.  Booksmart portrays teenage sexuality as awkward and realistic, but with so much care and love, and that is reflected in how Amy’s first sexual experiences are portrayed. 

Booksmart wouldn’t be what it is with it’s perfectly casted ensemble, including Mason Gooding, Diana Silvers, Billie Lourd, Nico Hiraga, Noah Galvin, Skyler Gisondo, Molly Gorden, Eduardo Franco, Austin Crute, and Victoria Ruesga.  The chemistry between these actors offscreen shines through their performances on screen, making it feel like they have known each other throughout their teenage years. Each character has their own memorable moments, which is hard to accomplish with such a large ensemble.  The movie has you believe that each character will represent a high school stereotype, however, by the end of the movie, the audience learns these characters are more than who they appear to be. 

Olivia Wilde's Booksmart
United Artists Releasing

I went to a small high school, with a class of fewer than 200 students, and towards the end of the year, we had gotten closer. Molly’s graduation speech really summarizes how I felt when I left my class. I knew everyone was going off to do great things and I appreciated the times we had together because, as Molly said, although nothing would be the same, it was perfect. 

I have had the chance to meet Beanie Feldstein and tell her how much Molly means to me. I’ve spoken to Mason Gooding and told him how the movie has impacted my life.  My friend and I just recently visited the different filming locations and it felt so surreal being in the same setting.  Needless to say, Booksmart is one of my comfort movies for many reasons I can continue to go on about. 

More importantly, Booksmart is a movie that can allow everyone to reflect on the bonds they had created in their youth, and how those relationships affect your life. Its comedic genre allows for a better sense of relatability, yet it still tugs at your heartstrings whenever something big happens to the main characters. Even if there are no characters you can fully relate to, Booksmart still allows the audience to have a good time in the end, ultimately fulfilling its purpose.

Mikayla Galaviz

Cal Lutheran '23

Mikayla is an aspiring entertainment journalist, who wants to bring more focus on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ works of media.
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