Apologies for that misleading and crass headline, but it worked, right? BOOKSMART is actually Olivia Wilde’s directorial film debut from Annapurna that opens on Memorial Day, May 27. And it’s as wild as you would suppose it would be, in a good way.
“From the beginning, my take on the story was that high school has extremely high stakes,” notes director Olivia Wilde. “When you’re in it, high school feels like life or death. I wanted to approach this film the same way a director would approach a high-octane action movie.”
You’ve got fresh-faced rising star Kaitlyn Dever (“Last Man Standing”) with Beanie Feldstein (who has a show biz brother named Jonah Hill) who are students under a gnarly principal played by Jason Sudeikis (whose wife directed the film). Hey, at least they didn’t bribe their way into any colleges here.
This is a coming-of-age rager from a teen girl perspective, even though this genre is usually the stuff of boy-buddy movies. This is “like a buddy cop movie, where it’s about partners who have each other’s backs no matter what,” according to Wilde. “They can be very different people who can support each other, complete each other, but within a high-stakes environment. We took inspiration from Beverly Hills Cop, Training Day and Lethal Weapon. Basically, Booksmart is a relationship movie, set in a high school environment that reflects just how high the stakes truly are during that period of our lives.”
BOOKSMART was written by Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins and Susanna Fogel and Katie Silbern, with Megan Ellison from Annapurna championing the project. Although Adam McKay and Will Ferrell executive produced this, it’s no “Porky’s,” shall we say.
This first feature for Wilde is a peanut-gallery-free display of dimensional teenagers being individuals despite the hormones. The talented cast includes Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, and Will Forte. Annapurna is using the official dot movie protocol, so visit the movie here.