What Not to Watch: Booksmart
Parent Previews is not providing a complete review for Booksmart. Based on our advance research, we consider the movie to be completely unsuitable for the teen audience to which is it so clearly marketed. The MPAA gave Booksmart a Restricted rating for “strong sexual content and language throughout, drug use and drinking – all involving teens”. We completely concur with the R rating and do not encourage this film as an option for family viewing.
Booksmart tells the story of two best friends, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein). Both girls are academic superstars, having singlemindedly focused on academic achievement with the goal of getting into prestigious universities. That goal achieved, they are disheartened to discover that some of their hard-partying classmates also made it into top tier colleges – while also having a lot of fun. The two girls decide that since they sacrificed their social lives during high school, they are going to cram all the partying and misbehavior they possibly can into one night.
The girls’ idea of fun is not one that will please most parents. It involves watching lots of teens drink, ingest hallucinogens, and smoke pot. And it seems to require enormous amounts of profanity. This 102 minute movie contains 200 uses of coarse and sexual language, with the sexual expletive, vulgar terms for women and anatomy, and scatological curses predominating.
The biggest area of concern in Booksmart, however, is sexual content. Amy’s a lesbian and Molly’s straight and the sexual interests and activities of both young women are front and center in the story. Sexual discussions, innuendo, and language occur frequently in the film with conversations about masturbation, sex positions, and same sex experiences. Non-sexual breast nudity is briefly visible; a drawing of a penis is seen, and naked Barbie dolls are featured in animated segment. There are two sexually suggestive scenes, including one where two female characters begin undressing and having sex in a bathroom. And in a particularly troubling subplot, a teen starts a flirtatious relationship with a teacher with the implication that the two have sex. That this kind of predatory sexual relationship, based around a student/teacher relationship and the associated power imbalance would be featured in a movie aimed at teens is unacceptable.
However charming the lead actresses might be, however beneficial the film’s themes about body positivity are, we simply don’t believe the tsunami of negative content can be overcome. We cannot recommend Booksmart as a smart choice for teen audiences.