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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

Molly is going to Yale. Amy is going to Colombia. What do they have in common? Well, they’re best friends who studied hard, forsook partying and promised themselves that at the end of high school, it would all be worth it.

And it has been. At least, until Molly asks a group of irresponsible partiers where they’re going to school. It turns out they’re also joining the Ivy League. What?!

Apparently you can be reckless and get into an exclusive college, a paradox that Molly and Amy don’t know anything about. But that’s about to change, because these two will not be bested—in school or in partying.

So the night before graduation, Molly convinces Amy to go to the biggest party of the year. And the girls set off, determined to fit four years of lost partying into one wild night.

Positive Elements

Molly and Amy are best friends. Molly is determined, confident and unwavering in her academic pursuits. But she can be judgmental and controlling. In the end, though, she apologizes to people she’s judged and learns that those with different passions, pursuits and interests are just as valuable and intelligent as she is.

Amy is more of a free spirit, dedicated to her studies and just as intelligent. She’s planning a stint in Africa to help impoverished women before heading off to college.

Molly and Amy’s friendship runs deep, and they’re both quick to encourage each other when fear or self-doubt creeps in. Amy rebukes Molly for negative self-talk and encourages her to see herself as beautiful, for example. Similarly, Molly challenges Amy to step outside of her comfort zone and to pursue her dreams.

A teen learns that he can’t buy people’s affection.

Spiritual Elements

Amy’s parents are portrayed as Christians who are fully accepting of Amy’s same-sex attraction.

Molly is jokingly called a “Philistine,” and she meditates to self-improvement audio books. A young woman says that after losing her virginity in a graveyard, “spirits live inside of me.”

Sexual Content

Sexual innuendo and coarse sensual gags take center stage throughout this film. Jokes about oral sex, same-sex attraction, intercourse, ejaculation, arousal, sadomasochism, masturbation, teenage pregnancy, sexual anatomy, sexual orientation and urinary tract infections are all heard.

Amy, who identifies as a lesbian, is interested in a young woman named Ryan. Unsure of how Ryan feels about her, Amy flirts and hopes Ryan will kiss her. When Amy finds Ryan making out with a popular guy, she decides to get physical with another female. So physical, in fact, that Amy takes off her own shirt, as well as the shirt, pants and underwear of that new partner. (We see the two women’s thighs as well as their bras and bare stomachs). The two make out, and it’s implied that there’s more intimate sexual contact as well.

Amy’s parents believe Amy and Molly are in a relationship with one another, although they’re not. Molly jokingly tells Amy’s parents she wants to be a “special friend” to their daughter, and grabs Amy’s breasts in front of them.

Amy and Molly have an in-depth discussion about pornography, and Molly shames Amy for never having seen any of it. So, in an attempt to learn about same-sex intercourse, Amy and Molly watch pornography together in the back of an Uber. (We hear suggestive sounds, but don’t see anything.)

One scene depicts Molly and Amy as Barbie dolls graphically talking about their anatomy (this scene is the result of hallucinating after unknowingly consuming a drug-laced piece of fruit).

A female teacher (one who catches the eye of male and female students alike) goes to a high school party and (we hear) has sex with a 20 year old male student. A boy at school is rumored to have received a female prostitute as a gift from his father. A girl admits to performing oral sex on multiple guys. Male genitals are drawn on a bathroom wall.

Amy plans to spend some time in Africa helping women make tampons. A bumper sticker mentions hot flashes. High school students use condoms as water balloons. A high school student is forced to play a “barren orthodontist” at a costume party. Two gay, male students, host a costume party, and one of the guys wears a dress. Guys and girls use the same bathrooms at school.

Girls wear short shorts, revealing tops and bikinis. Guys are seen in swim shorts. Girls and guys dance with one another, flirt and kiss.

Violent Content

In preparing for a wild night out, Molly and Amy watch self-defense classes online and accidentally douse themselves with pepper spray.

Later they attempt to get a ride from a pizza-delivery man by masquerading as burglars and threatening him. The man proceeds to ask if they’re involved in the Manson family and goes into great detail about the ways both of them could be killed by entering a stranger’s car. Later, they discover that the man is a wanted strangler.

A teen hits his head on a locker multiple times. A drama student says that a fictitious character has died. We hear that a crazy girl threatened to “shiv an old man.”

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misused more than 10 times, occasionally paired with “d–mit,” and Jesus’ name is abused seven times. We hear more than 70 f-words and nearly 20 s-words, including multiple uses of “b–ch,” “a–,” “d–n” and “d–k.”

The n-word is voiced once in a song. A high school student is called a “wench.” Two teens use crude hand gestures.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Molly and Amy think they’ve found a tin of cocaine in a car, but it’s actually crushed-up vitamins. Later, they unknowingly eat some strawberries dipped in cocaine, which causes them to hallucinate. (In this long, profane scene, they think they’re Barbies.) Amy confesses to having eaten a brownie laced with marijuana.

Various parties take place throughout the film, and many of them involve underage drinking. Teens consume beer, hard liquor and champagne. A teen girl smokes cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements

Adults (including teachers, principals and parents) cross significant, inappropriate adult/child boundaries throughout the film. A teacher drives Molly and Amy to an unsupervised house party and confessses previous “dark moments.” The school principal takes Amy and Molly (as their Uber driver) around town, all the while affirming their poor choices. Amy’s parents don’t ask any questions when she wants to leave for the night.

While Molly sits in the restroom, she overhears both guys and girls making fun of her. She retaliates by trying to make them feel inferior, but her attempt to demoralize them backfires.

Molly and Amy get into a huge fight in public. They exchange harsh words and vebarlly degrade each other. Amy throws up on another young woman, right after kissing her. Molly and Amy drive recklessly.

Conclusion

What would you do if you only had one night to make up for years of “lost” time? For besties Molly and Amy, the choice is clear: Letting loose after four years of buttoned-down discipline.

For a film centered on reckless teen “liberation,” Booksmart makes some solid points about friendship and acceptance. But it does so by making the most of its R rating. Sexual content (both verbal and visual) is a huge issue here, not to mention the harsh language, underage drinking and drug use that all find their way into Molly and Amy’s misadventures.

Admittedly, both Molly and Amy are likeable, relatable characters, the kind many teens could easily identify with. But teens are also invited to laugh at and minimize enormous volumes of problematic content here, including some exceedingly risky choices by the movie’s two young stars.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).