Whether or not I admit it freely, I am a diehard fan of the teen movie. Sure, on first dates I used to truthfully offer up a documentary as my most recently watched fare, but in the late hours of a Sunday afternoon, you can bet I’ll be curled up in a blanket preparing to sob at a story about growing up.
But look, I’ll be the first to admit that some of them can be a little… Problematic. Whether it’s the inference that you have to look a certain way to be popular, or that you aren’t whole unless you ‘get the guy’, it’s not a great message to be sending to impressionable teens (or, ahem, impressionable 25-year-olds who can’t help but watch).
One flick that’s done well in making the teen movie more palatable (and funny as fuck) for a 2019 audience is ‘Booksmart‘, directed by ultimate queen, Olivia Wilde.
It tells the story of Molly and Amy, two incredibly smart high schoolers who realise on the last day of school that they’ve spent all their time studying and none of it having fun — so naturally they spend their last night making up for lost time by lying to their parents and going partying.
It’s wholesome and hilarious, sure, but it also manages to hit a bunch of areas that are lacking in a lot of the teen movies that have come out lately. Even outside the screen and the inevitable tears of laughter, there’s a stack of really great reasons you should get around it.
Here’s why I’ve rearranged my teen movie list.
Positive LGBTQIA+ representation
Amy, one of the leading ladies of the film, is open from the get-go about being a lesbian. There’s no big reveal about her sexuality, there’s no uncomfortable male gaze, and even her conservative parents are shown as being supportive. Sure there are a few jokes here and there, but none of them punch down.
This is a teen, queer character whose romantic storyline isn’t treated any differently to her heterosexual counterpart’s. It’s not scandalous, it’s just fucking sweet and awkward in a way that all teen romances are. I can’t emphasise how important that is. It’s normalising, and young members of the LGBTQIA+ community can watch and see themselves reflected.
Showcasing the importance of balance
One of the biggest mistakes I look back on in high school is taking things too seriously and not giving myself enough of a life. We all get massively stressed about things like the HSC taking over. Sure, studying is super important and we should be making sure to get a hefty dose. But without a hefty dose of balance, you aren’t treating yourself fairly.
‘Booksmart’ talks about balance with a healthy perspective. The characters spent their entire high school lives being so focused on school that they neglected to be social with anyone other than each other. And while their best friendship is incredibly wholesome, there’s a whole level of ‘party’ they simply didn’t experience.
this is how powerful I strive to be in life
Female film-making power
Outside of the film itself, one of the biggest reasons that I’m all for ‘Booksmart’ is that it’s directed by a woman, stars women, and is all about building up women. Female directors are incredibly talented and underrepresented, so being able to see the dedication and care that Wilde has put into the movie is massively important.
In a tweet that Wilde herself posted in late May, she acknowledged how much harder it is to get a movie made by and about women — and it’s something we should all be getting around.
Anyone out there saving @Booksmart for another day, consider making that day TODAY. We are getting creamed by the big dogs out there and need your support. Don’t give studios an excuse not to green-light movies made by and about women. ????❤️????
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) May 25, 2019
Notable celebs are advocating for it
Yep, a bunch of seriously impressive celebrities are rallying around the film wanting to get your peepers on it in an attempt to shine a light on female filmmaking. It may not seem like much, but having big names advocating for your flick can make a huge difference.
High profile fans the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Mindy Kaling and even rom-com queen Reese Witherspoon were shouting from the bloody rooftops (ahem, posting on Twitter, which is kind of the same thing).
Check out some of their responses below.
Who else is seeing @Booksmart this weekend?? ????????????
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) May 24, 2019
BOOKSMART. Don’t walk, RUN to see this. Today and all summer. Holy shit. pic.twitter.com/IV2coaiDpr
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) May 26, 2019
— Lili Reinhart (@lilireinhart) May 26, 2019
I was #blessed enough to watch #BooksmartMovie early and omg it’s hysterical. @BeanieFeldstein & @KaitlynDever, you ladies are awesome ???????????????????????? Thank you @oliviawilde for directing this genius film @Booksmart pic.twitter.com/rYGXeF9Vuj
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) May 16, 2019
Go see Booksmart in a theater!!
Because it will make you laugh!
Because it reminds you of everything great about friendship.
Because it’s an epic directorial debut!
Because the actors are rock stars!
Because Hollywood should make more movies like this!
— Jason Reitman (@JasonReitman) June 3, 2019
Hey comedy lovers— It’s really fuckin hard to direct a great comedy, and @oliviawilde did it. So do yourself a favor and go see @booksmart today. Like, tonight. Like, go see it instead of that other movie you were planning on seeing. I saw it and laughed, and I hate everything.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) May 26, 2019
Look, I’m still going to watch and enjoy my trashy teen movies, but seeing flicks like ‘Booksmart’ make the genre work in an unproblematic way is eye-opening. There’s no reason movies can’t be healthy and awesome.
It’s releasing in Australia on July 11th, so grab your best high school mate and plan ahead for a big night of comedy, nostalgia and teen movie fun.
Because honestly, if Seth MacFarlane (self-proclaimed hater of everything) loved it, you probably will too.Image: Universal Pictures