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In their own way, teen comedies have the capacity to demonstrate the very real power of cinema. Those who grew up with a close relationship to movies can likely rattle off a series of fantastic titles they saw through their high school years, and it’s because of the significant impact of watching characters your own age struggle with similar issues – while also experiencing wacky, hilarious hijinks. Every living generation has their personal examples of this, and now Olivia Wilde has contributed to this wonderful legacy with her directorial debut, Booksmart.
At the same time, though, hearing some wonderful comparisons to legitimate classics has really amazed the filmmaker in the run-up to the release of her movie – which is something she joyously explains in this exclusive new featurette:
As she explains in the video, Olivia Wilde was excited to make Booksmart as her first directorial effort because of her own personal love of teen comedies – and she performs a bit of title rattling herself, with a special focus on the many classics from writer/director John Hughes. Her intention was to evoke the very special feeling of being young and the freedom that comes with it, and it’s apparently been a thrilling experience getting feedback with that reaction from audiences that have already seen the film. Said Wilde,
The reason I wanted to make Booksmart is because I love these high school classics. I love these generational anthems. I think about movies like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Clueless… I wanted to make something that celebrates the kind of freedom of youth, but to hear people say like, 'Oh, this movie makes me feel how I felt when I watched Clueless' is kind of mind-boggling.
Based on an original screenplay by Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman, Booksmart tells the story of Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) - two overachieving, anti-social high school seniors who are exceptionally proud of the hard work they’ve done and the high grades they have earned. They are both set for extremely bright futures, but the wind gets totally taken out of their sails when they discover that many of their party-loving classmates are also getting ready to go to some of the best colleges in the country. Feeling like they’ve missed out on a key part of the teenage experience, they vow to make the most of the night before graduation by attending a party being thrown by one of the most popular kids in school.
The movie very much shares a kindred soul with the wonderful titles mentioned earlier, and Olivia Wilde hopes that it it’s a film that connects with audiences of all ages – both the young people who are currently experiencing similar tribulations as the protagonists, and those who are older and can reflect on having those same experiences in their youth:
I wanted to make [teenagers] something that acknowledges how awesome they are, while also making something for the rest of us to just look at and feel super nostalgic.