REVIEW: “BOOKSMART” (2019) Annapurna Pictures

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Every decade comes with its own teen movies.  ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’, ‘Clueless’, ‘Superbad’ or any and all of John Hughes films can be par for the course of this genre.  Most are fun and years later you can give them a watch as a reminder of fun moments in life.

“BOOKSMART” might be another one that some will no doubt, add to their list.  Early word of mouth was mostly positive so going in early also and fully expecting to enjoy it, I was dismayed when the film was making “Funny, huh? Wasn’t that funny?!?” noises despite nothing particularly funny happening. Olivia Wilde gets points here though, for making a very colorful and energetic movie that might indeed convince a lot of people through sheer high spirits that it’s a great comedy. But instead it felt just strenuous to me, trying too hard to cover the fact that the funny, clever, witty material you found in all those John Hughes films, wasn’t actually there.

The premise is while some might find ridiculous, can actually happen. Two bookworm protagonists Molly (Beanie Feldstein) & Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), are horrified to discover that after all their sacrifices for the future, all the party-hearty types at their high school ALSO got into Ivy League schools. This would make sense if it took place in a wealthy community where everyone was a “legacy” student thanks for their family’s donations. But the movie makes a point of singling out two characters as the only “truly rich” ones here. Those two, Nick (Mason Gooding) & Gigi (Billie Lourd), like every character save the two lead girls, are complete “SNL”-style caricatures. What’s worse, they all also seem to be played by actors who are about a decade too old, once again apart from the two lead girls.  Add in the trying to be cool character Principal Brown (Jason Sudeikis), who side-lines as a Uber driver role, the crazy girl Triple A (Molly Gordon), who actually is one of the few that brings along the laughs, the poor rich kid with no friends and has to buy them routine character Jared (Skyler Gisondo), and wrap it all up with the lonely oddball teacher Miss Fine (Jessica Williams), (who’s name can explain the entire character to you) that ends up at a school party and sleeps with the over-aged 19 yr old senior student Theo (Eduardo Franco) that really is just weird and oh-so-wrong!

Even so, the premise and the casting and everything might have worked if “Booksmart” were an outright farce. But it seems to be aiming to be sorta-kinda “real,” while the characters nonetheless behave like no teenagers past or present. Everything here is so over-amped and contrived for effect, yet the ingenious comedy situations and bright lines that approach might have served are nowhere to be found.

While it’s can be very lively and somewhat well-crafted movie, it nonetheless felt completely phony and unfunny for the most part.  It’s not boring, but I have no idea what people who like it are responding to, beyond the fact that its being lauded as the “‘Superbad’ for high school senior girls” which is probably good enough for many, though it should be aiming for more.  You could say it tries for a mix of “Superbad” and John Hughes, but those movies do a much better job turning recognizable teenage life into farce with some heart, and if Wilde intended something similar, on the whole she misses the mark.

‘A’ for effort, in the ‘C+’ average range for derivative/uninspired content and it’s no brilliantly put together film like last years brilliant ‘Eighth Grade’ .  It’s like a student paper with a very splashy cover but nothing original or thoughtful inside.

Grade: C+                                                                                                                                                      @pegsatthemovies

 

Review Screening: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Film group                  ‘BOOKSMART’ IS NOW PLAYING NATIONWIDE//WORLDWIDE RELEASE FOLLOWING

 

REVIEW ~ LAGGIES (2014)

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There have been some very bad movies released this year and this doozie is definitely one of the worst.  I almost didn’t even want to write a review as I feel like I’m wasting as much of my time on it that they made me waste watching it and that was enough, so expect this to be very short and simple, to the point.

Keira Knightly in ANOTHER really awful performance, her 2nd of the year so far btw in a bad American accent again no less, is “Megan” an 20-something who is the sign-spinner (yes, you read that right..the person in front of a business who spins the sign for people to come in) for her father “Ed” (Jeff Garlin) accounting office and seems to be in the throes of a quarter-life crisis..yes really..if there is such a thing. She’s got a degree, lives with her boyfriend, “Anthony” (Mark Webber) who it weirdly seems as though she barely likes him and he seems to unquestionably just support her financially etc., without a problem and yet she just floats around aimlessly while all her friends like “Allison” (Elle Kemper) progress in front of her with their lives.  laggie 1

That is of course until she meets high-school student “Annika” (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her group of friends, “Misty” (Kaitlyn Dever), “Junior” (Daniel Zovatto), and “Patrick” (Dylan Arnold) and buys them beer and they become besties.. yep..they do. In fact, in order to ‘get away from it all’, Megan begins to hang out with this group of high-school students and proceeds to stay at Annika’s house until her divorced dad, “Craig” (Sam Rockwell) wonders, as all of us do, why is this woman staying in my house with my high-school aged child and saying they are friends like this is normal behaviour.. Let’s just say this movie is painful and not even Sam Rockwell can save it when he hooks up with Megan which of course unless you’re very impaired you know is going to happen from the moment Megan steps into their house.  Along with the absolute just inane – trying so hard to be quirky – plot of all this is the fact that Megan not only goes to a high-school party without any qualms or awkward feeling of anyone asking her WTF she is even doing there..she just fits right in..but wait for it…as yes..she goes to the prom too!!! At this point in the movie, I’m not sure how I had stayed so long without screaming or pulling my hair out in exasperation over how horrifically bad this movie is.. I guess because it was a screening and I always feel guilty if I leave early..and yes, thankfully I didn’t pay any money to see this farce, as then I would have been really PISSED!!!

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So to sum it up in case you haven’t guessed already, this is one bad movie. It’s kinda weird that a person in their 20’s would even want to hang out with high school kids..I don’t know anyone who ever did..and it’s not funny, there is no chemistry between any of the characters or any depth to any of them and it ends just as lamely as it started.

Grade: D-  (don’t waste your time or money)

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