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LIKES Evolved stylingStandard automatic emergency brakingAvailable all-wheel driveSmart Sport suspension tuningSupple, supportive seatsDISLIKES Small third rowToo far from Escalade in looks?Lacks SuperCruise, at least for nowBUYING TIP The 2020 Cadillac XT6 makes more sense in Premium Luxury trim, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t prefer the XT6 Sport’s handling.

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Booksmart Movie Review

Whipsmart

"Booksmart," the sharp and insightful directorial debut from actor-turned-director Olivia Wilde ("Life Itself"), takes us back to high school in a winning new comedy that upends notions of what movies like this can be. A frequently hilarious script and perfectly paired lead performances make for a movie that will define a generation of young moviegoers and allow them to plant their flag on a film to call their very own.


Molly (Beanie Feldstein, the "Lady Bird" scene-stealer) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, "Detroit") are longtime best friends. They have been at each other's sides through most major life events and have stayed on the same path throughout their high school careers. Amy and Molly's main objective has been to get perfect grades and be accepted into Ivy League schools. As their senior year ends, they realize they have developed a reputation of not having any fun, while their peers were experimenting with sex and drugs. Molly is rattled by this revelation more so than Amy, and demands that they attend the final party of the year and have all the experiences they missed out on.

Amy, as she usually does, goes along with Molly's plan. As it goes, hijinks ensue throughout their evening as they interact with very specific characters from their class. They continually run into Jared (Skyler Gisondo, "Vacation"), the swaggering showoff, who desperately wants everyone to think he's cool. He's usually with Gigi (Billie Lourd, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"), who pops up when you least expect it and utilizes every moment she's on screen to exude a strange and hypnotic comedic presence. Much like "Lady Bird" did for Feldstein, Lourd's performance here could yield leading roles for herself.

As much fun as the entire supporting cast is, "Booksmart" is Feldstein and Dever's show, and they have off-the-charts chemistry as best friends. We meet them at a turning point in their lives, but the performances allow us to feel the history between them. When they laugh and have a good time, we feel their joy. When they fight, we feel their pain. Feldstein has established herself as a bold comedic force, bringing great presence and power to roles of any size. Dever delivers her best work yet as Amy, creating a contrast to the more outspoken and brazen Molly.

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The screenplay - written by Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskin and Katie Silberman - certainly follows a trajectory we've seen before. The "one last party" trope has been explored before, but merely reducing "Booksmart" to "the female "Superbad"" is a disservice to what Wilde and company have created. The characters may appear as assigned archetypes on the surface, but the screenplay allows growth and movement, even within the smallest moments. Wilde is never dismissive of the supporting cast and gives them ample time to be heard and recognized by the audience. It's what elevates "Booksmart" above being just another party movie.

Some moments in the final act feel contrived for the sake of creating drama, and it's only frustrating because "Booksmart" is entirely authentic and didn't need these moments. Minor quibbles aside, there is too much to enjoy about the movie to let anything detract from the fun on screen. Take your best friend, relive the moments you've shared, and the moments yet to come. You won't be sorry you did.


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