This summer movie has everything: vintage costumes, perfectly-written jokes, friendship, romance, overbearing parents, and of course, a really, really big party. Cars are driven recklessly, karaoke is done to Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” First kisses are had and hearts are broken. Notably, no one says anything mean about anyone else’s physical appearance, and social divides are mostly about who’s down to party, rather than who is “cool” or attractive. This is the world of Olivia Wilde's new movie Booksmart.
But perhaps the most important piece of this coming-of-age puzzle is Booksmart's cast of goofy, magnetic characters, from co-lead Beanie Feldstein to Jessica Williams. The movie was cast by Allison Jones, who is truly the gold standard in comedy casting — her previous work includes Lady Bird, Freaks and Geeks, The Good Place, Veep, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bridesmaids, and Parks and Rec.
Some of the main ensemble had never acted before. Similar to Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade (also cast by Jones), Booksmart offers the sense that the auxiliary characters are adding texture to the movie simply by being themselves. It’s clear from the Booksmart UK press tour, which has been downright joyful, that Wilde cultivated a community on set that allowed the whole cast to bond. The familial vibe between actors translates to crackling chemistry between characters — on-screen adversaries and love interests alike.
And while these actors do a great job of creating connections on screen, they also do a great job of convincing us that they are actual teenagers. Turns out, they're not quite teens anymore...