Teen comedy Booksmart is being hailed as the funniest film of the year and brings a female perspective to a genre traditionally dominated by males. Dominic Corry spoke to its star Beanie Feldstein.
On the last day of school, two graduating best friends, Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), resolve to cram four years of partying into one night after realising their studiousness may have denied them some essential high-school experiences.
What do you think Booksmart brings to the teen movie that we haven't seen before?
It's an incredibly inclusive, thoughtful film, while also being deeply funny. I love that it is so subtle, so easy and kind of natural in the way it celebrates diversity. Diversity of humour, diversity of sexuality, diversity of the people who are in the film. [Director/co-writer] Olivia [Wilde] always says you have to change the paradigm from within, and that you have to do the thing that you want society to be doing. And if you have the power to do that, that's a really big gift. And she did. I love the message of the film, which is that we should all see each other more clearly. We should all look for the multi-dimensionality in people and not just kind of make a surface judgment. If we do that to others, we're definitely doing it to ourselves.
You're in your 20s now - how close is the world of this film to your own high school experience?
Mine was very similar to the one we depict in the film. I went to high school in Los Angeles in the Valley with an incredible class of over-achievers. But I think that even in the short time since I've been in high school - with the internet and with social media and the current political state of the country - things are changing. And they're always changing. That's what I love about Booksmart: [co-writer] Katie Silberman and Olivia Wilde had their finger not only on the pulse, but they were like, creating the pulse. We were in 2018 but anticipating 2019, and when you have such a clear class year on a film, you kind of want it to ring true, and I think Katie and Olivia did it so brilliantly, it feels like such a 2019 film.
But at the same time, Katie always talks about this, the reason we still love Fast Times At Ridgemont High or Clueless is because they celebrate the decade that they took place in, but while also being incredibly universal in the relationships they're portraying and the stories they're telling. And I think they really did that in Booksmart.
What do you think your teenage self would've made of Booksmart if it was released when you were in high school?
I think I would've been so thrilled to see friendship as the most important relationship in a film and friendship between two of the most exciting vibrant young female characters I'd ever seen on screen. We don't have enough stories of these young friendships that feel true. I think I would've loved it.
Many are drawing comparisons between this and Superbad - are you okay with that?
Totally. Superbad, I always call it a "forever film" - it's so special and it's forever because people want to keep going back to it and that takes a very special movie to have that quality. And I do think that Booksmart has that quality as well. I think it will become a sleepover movie. But I think we should get to a point where films that feature women don't have to be the girl version of another movie. I think it's just a movie. Olivia said the other day: "Wouldn't it be radical if we got to a space where something was the boy version of a girl movie?"
Do you have a favourite high school movie?
My most-watched movie is Mean Girls. I am such a Tina Fey fan, and Amy Poehler fan, and Rachel McAdams and that entire cast is so iconic. And it's such a different film from Booksmart, but for me that was the one that we watched over and over and over.
You had a recurring role in the What We Do In The Shadows TV series – how was that?
Oh those boys. They're just ... they're incredible people. I felt really honoured to be a very small part of something that I think is so funny. There are some episodes I didn't read because I wasn't a part of them, and I just couldn't wait to watch them every week. Jemaine [Clement] and Taika [Waititi] are comedic forces and I felt so honoured to just get to learn from them. Jemaine directed most of the episodes that I was on and he is just such a giving, talented man.
Who: Beanie Feldstein
When: In cinemas tomorrow