Two friends try and make up for their overly studious ways the night before their high school graduation.
Directed by Olivia Wilde
Starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever
Review by Pierce Bauer
As DJ Shadow's "Nobody Speak" booms through the speakers, one of the numerous badass, bass-heavy hip-hop songs cycling through as a pseudo score for the film, the feeling of kicking down a door and making a grand entrance to a party emerges in Olivia Wilde's Booksmart. The film follows the one night journey of Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), the epitome of BFFs, as they look to fulfill their final chance at adolescent partying. The premise is nothing new, but the audacious character work and superb mix of comedy with earnest teenage friendship is something that should turn heads. Living with the predetermined moniker of being a female Superbad lessens the movie's innovation from its teen comedy predecessor, but also should provide an accurate seal of approval for the level of humor and impact of the film.
A movie even tangentially related to Carl Sagan is going to work a little bit on me. In Troop Zero, Amazon’s first direct-to-streaming major release, the plot revolves around the Voyager Golden Record, a project of interplanetary communication headed by Sagan and memorialized in one of my favorite Drunk History segments. The Golden Record immediately endears me to this film by directors Bert and Bertie (whatever), and if it enters the rotation of acceptable parent-teacher conference movies a la The Sandlot or Rookie of the Year, so be it. That’s been an underserved market for years and it’s time for a resurgence.
While romantic comedies are in the midst of a comeback thanks to Netflix’s finely tuned algorithm, Long Shot aims its genre attempt at the world of politics at a time when no script can match the absurdity of the real world. The film not only asks the viewer to imagine something like a return to governmental normalcy, but it also proposes Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen as a credible couple. These are big requests, one of which the film pretends doesn’t exist and the other it constantly interrogates. Jonathan Levine, a deft director who knows his way around the line between drama and comedy, accomplishes some of what he needed to with Long Shot, a film that entertains but doesn’t elevate.
Eddie Murphy’s had several attempts at comebacks in the 21st century, all of which peter out into an inability to capitalize on the reservoir of goodwill that keeps those comebacks alive. His wild onscreen choices and his offscreen antics keep prompting the need to go away and reemerge. Murphy was all set to win an Oscar in 2006 with his role in Dreamgirls, but that was supposedly blown by the release of Norbit in the midst of Oscar voting. He was awarded with the Mark Twain Prize for American Comedy in 2015 and later appeared on SNL’s 40th anniversary telecast, but he didn’t even crack a joke when the audience was thirsty to embrace him. The reception to Dolemite is My Name and the forthcoming sequel to Coming in America place Murphy at yet another turning point, where he can stay in the good graces of a public that so badly wants him around or capitalize on this moment by taking a bag full of money to do some hacky high concept comedy where he plays a dozen different roles.
I came upon an article through a link in a recent Atlantic or Slate article that I suspect Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, the writers of Good Boys, may also have read. The article, located at The Good Men Project, a clearinghouse for the expression of 21st century masculinity, reviewed a book about adolescent male friendships, friendships that the author categorized as affectionate and intimate in a way that no one would categorize older teen or adult friendships. Through hundreds of interviews across classes and races, the author was herself surprised at the language the boys used to describe their closest friends, and the review placed that plainly expressed love against the loneliness and resultant ‘deaths of despair’ that have lowered the US life expectancy for the first time in modern history. Both the review and the book redefine that loneliness as mourning for that childhood emotional intimacy, which for many men, isn’t replicated ever again. Is Good Boys a good or thoughtful enough movie to generate that kind of comparison or global psychological interrogation? Amidst all the dildos and dislocated shoulders, the answer is… sort of. Eisenberg and Stupnitsky, with the latter directing, effectively remake Superbad for the tween set, adding enough mournfulness to the foul-mouthed gags and making the resultant film deep enough to persist once the laughs have died down.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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