Booksmart, Wilde & Out

I was intrigued the first time I saw Olivia Wilde in the Tron follow-up.  Now she’s directing movies, and recently stated the following in a New York Times interview:

“It is remarkable that I am 35 years old and this is the first job I’ve ever had that wasn’t entirely dependent on and connected to my looks,” she said. “It grosses me out to acknowledge it, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it.”

All well and good, but I’m not sure puking on a classmate and having condom water balloon fights are a way to elevate yourself, especially when your story is about two geeky kids trying to get to the cool kids’ big backyard bash.  You’re not exactly opening the originality box.  And that is the entire story.  So we’re left with a character-driven story — with characters that are compelling, to a point, but hardly riveting.  They’re just not that interesting.

Booksmart has been referred to as a female Superbad.  Not even close.  Superbad was a truly great, authentically touching, and very funny teen comedy — one of the best of all time.  Olivia Wilde should never be thought of in the same light as Judd Apatow.  So I’m sorry you so tragically had to rely on your looks all this time.

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It may sound like I have some animosity toward Booksmart.  I do not.  I concede that I was entertained and reasonably engaged with these characters.  But calling it a Masterpiece, or even the equations to Superbad just discredit you as a critic.  6/10

Comparison Notes: Crazy Rich Asians, Blockers, Sixteen Candles, Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, Superbad, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Happy Death Day, The Sure Thing, Ghost World, and most other high school-based movies, with the exception of Risky Business.  There are no comparison notes between Booksmart and Risky Business.  None.

PS May is not summer.  By the 4th of July, it’ll be tough finding this picture in theaters.

Aniara: More Bad, Pointless Science Fiction

I keep hoping to run into a little indie sci-fi film maybe half as good as Moon or a tenth as good as Under the Skin.  I think the Moon-reminiscent poster overcame my reluctance to see another foreign indie low-budget sci-fi flick.  My aspirations proved futile.

Aniara is mostly atrocious, if marginally better than High Life.  I think both are trying to take this skewed European sensibility of everyday life-with-a-couple-crises-thrown-in and apply it to a space travel framework.  It’s like a bad French film à la La Chambre Bleue set aboard a big cruise ship in space.  The result for both High Life and Aniara is nothing short of a horrendous, slow moving torture session.  I would literally rather stare at the monolith of 2001 for two straight hours than sit through this movie.

I think there is a potentially poignant English Patient-ish point that is trying to be made with this movie.  But with wide, maw-like gaps in premise and execution set upon a flimsy skeleton of a story, that point is never let to breathe.


As I watched this dismal film, I had wistful remembrance of Passengers, a downright brilliant thrill-ride by comparison.  2/10

Comparison Notes: besides those mentioned above, Snowpiercer