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Laramie Movie Scope: Booksmart

A very funny party animal adventure

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 21, 2019 – This is a very funny movie about two studious high school students, who feel left out of the high school social scene, so they decide to cut loose and party down on the night before graduation. The result is a series of misadventures and discovery which is something like a cross between “The Breakfast Club” and “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.”

The two overachiever honor students are Molly (played by Beanie Feldstein of “Ladybird”) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever of “The Front Runner”). Molly is class president and Amy's best friend. Amy is not assertive, while Molly is the one who usually decides what the two of them will do. Molly is straight, while Amy is gay. Amy's folks think that Molly and Amy are a romantic couple, but they are just friends.

On the day before graduation, Molly discovers that her whole strategy of concentrating on school work at the expense of her social life has not gotten her ahead of other students in the way she thought it had. She suddenly decides that she and Amy ought to go to a party to make up for their lack of fun during the past four years.

Amy is reluctant, but finally agrees to Molly's insistence about going to a big party. The first problem is they were not exactly invited to the party and they don't know where it is. This leads them to other parties they did not intend to go to, including a role-playing murder mystery party, and a very expensive party on a huge yacht which has attracted almost no one for its lonely host, Jared (Skyler Gisondo of “The Amazing Spider-Man”).

Along the way, they eat some strawberries that unbeknownst to them are laced with powerful hallucinogens. They are trapped in a kind of alternate reality for a time in which they seem to inhabit the bodies of Barbie-like dolls. During their travels, they cross paths with many classmates, teachers and others, including the school principal, Jordan Brown (Jason Sudeikis of “Colossal”). A running gag is that they keep running into the same girl, Gigi (Billie Lourd of “Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi”). The drug-loving Gigi always manages to get to the next party before them, despite jumping off the Yacht into the water at one point in the film.

When they finally get to the big party they intended to go to in the first place, Molly targets Nick (Mason Gooding of “Let it Snow”) a popular school jock that she has secretly desired for years. Amy targets Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) a girl she has a crush on. When things go awry, Molly and Amy get into a heated argument, and Molly finds out she doesn't know as much about Amy as she thought she did.

Molly and Amy end up with people that they had not considered for friendship before the party. The police arrive to break up the party and things go out of control. This turns out to be a big learning experience for Molly and Amy. They make new friends, and the two become better friends as a result of having cleared the air between them.

This tale of misadventures is not fundamentally different from many others of this genre, but it is smartly written (by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman) and smartly directed by first-timer Olivia Wilde. It is well paced and there is a satisfying mix of comedy and drama. This is certainly one of the year's best comedies, as well as one of the best films overall.

I really liked Beanie Feldstein in Ladybird, and she is matched in this film by Kaitlyn Dever. The characters they play, and the other characters they interact with in the film are what make this an exceptional film. This film rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2019 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]