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geezer cinema/film fatales #57: booksmart (olivia wilde, 2019)

I wanted to like Booksmart a lot more than I eventually did. It's stylishly directed by a woman, it centers on two female characters, it has a few good jokes, and has a couple of favorites of mine in Kaitlyn Dever and Jessica Williams. But it's not much of a movie. I wish it were better. (Especially since it was my first pick in our new "Geezer Cinema" series.)

Part of the problem is that, as I've noted many times, I am not a fan of modern comedies. And there's my obsession with not knowing anything about a movie before I see it. In this case, I knew it had gotten good reviews, and I knew Olivia Wilde had encouraged people to see it as part of an effort to get more attention/funding/audiences for "movies made by and about women." What I didn't know is that it was a comedy. Which is another way of saying, your mileage may vary, but Booksmart is way out of my zone, not because it is about women, but because it's a comedy. You can take my words with a grain of salt. I did laugh a few times, and I found the film amiable ... I'm not sorry I saw it. But ...

I keep track of my movie ratings on MovieLens. There, I find that I have given 27 comedies my highest 10/10 rating. Here is the breakdown, by decade:

  • 1920s: 5
  • 1930s: 9
  • 1940s: 4
  • 1950s: 5
  • 1960s: 2
  • 1970s: 1
  • 2000s: 1

I can quibble with MovieLens' definition of "Comedy" ... if it were me, I don't think I'd include The Rules of the Game, for instance. And this little chart is not meant to establish a method for assigning greatness. It is completely subjective. But since A Hard Day's Night and Dr. Strangelove in 1964, I have given my highest rating to a grand total of two comedies: Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, and American Splendor. Booksmart was up against this ... I was never going to like it as much as I wanted to like it.

I liked it about as much as I liked Bridesmaids and Moonrise Kingdom and The Interview and The Favourite. I liked it more than I liked Tusk. If you liked those movies, you will probably like Booksmart. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.

(Explanation of the Film Fatales Series. I'm going to have to update this soon.)

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