Booksmart: Every Teen Movie Needs A Gigi

AMY: I ate a legal pot brownie when Model UN went to Amsterdam but as soon as I got high I just cried about the fact that one day my mom will die.


GIGI: That’s crazy! I have the exact same thing!


AMY: Really?


GIGI: Yes! I lost my virginity in what I thought was a park, but it turned out to be a graveyard and now the ghost spirits live inside my eggs, waiting to be reborn.

Last year’s Booksmart was an uncontrollable teen fantasy about a pair of overachievers who cut loose on their last night of high school.  Olivia Wilde, the senselessly beautiful siren who hopes to one been known as Gram- O Hotpants, directs.

The world of Booksmart could only exist in the movies.  Students trash their school with confetti and condom water balloons.  Teachers hook up with students who flunked seventh grade twice.  Palm trees grow indoors without sunlight.  Everyone gets into an Ivy League university.  Perhaps most unrealistically, it takes minutes to get from Long Beach to the West Side to the Valley.  That said, Booksmart is a fun ride.   Parts of Booksmart are painstakingly inclusive; others, like the student/ teacher relationship or the excessively theatrical gay men, are inappropriate.  But one character creates her own trope:  Gigi.

“Here comes the one percent,” Amy groans as Gigi’s muscle car screeches into frame.

Gigi’s introduction makes her look like a Regina George or Sharpay Evans type: rich, pampered, out- of- touch, dumb.  You think Gigi might shove the girls in a pool or make out with their love interests.  But then Gigi shows up EVERYWHERE.  At the unattended yacht party thrown by rich kids who think they can buy friends, she shoves two hallucinogenic strawberries in the girls’ faces before leaping into the harbor.  At the theater kids’ murder mystery dinner party, she traps the girls in a closet.  And then she’s at the premiere party of the evening, proving another character’s point about how loyal she is before belly flopping into the pool.  She plays piano at the graduation ceremony.  She’s like the girls’ psycho fairy godmother.

The audience’s relationship to Gigi changes throughout the film.  First, she’s a Heather.  Then, she’s a wild child.  She snorts vitamins like cocaine and changes outfits like some people change tampons.  Then, you realize she really cares about the people around her.  She wants everyone to have a good time.  She attends her best friend’s party, even though it was very lame.  She encourages people to connect through karaoke.  Gigi acts crazy and suffers every judgement, but she doesn’t care.

Her best friend Jared says, “she’s a sad person. And she may be nuts, but she’s the most loyal person I’ve ever met. She once tried to shiv a mailman because she thought he laughed at me.  Plus, not everyone’s lucky enough to find someone like you and Amy.”

And then, I felt sorry for Gigi.  What makes her so sad?  She went from would- be villain to comic relief to tragic hero.

Billie Lourd plays Gigi.  Audiences most likely recognize Lourd from Star Wars, where she acts alongside her mom, Carrie Fisher.   Gigi’s character in the script reads like comic relief.  Lourd said the first time she read the screenplay, “I wept tears of joy. It was hysterical. I am a little bit of a hardened, jaded human. But when I read this script I was rolling on the floor because it was so damn funny.”  Gigi brings the funny to many of the film’s more tense moments, like tiffs between Amy and Molly or the awkward yacht party.  Lourde’s low voice and wise eyes give Gigi depth.  The original screenwriting team wrote Gigi with Lourde in mind, possibly because of her doofy but delightful performance in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens.  Screenwriter Katie Silberman said, “after the table read, we ended up looking in every possible place to see where else we could bring her in.”

I had a lot of problems with Booksmart, but I loved Gigi.  Every teen movie needs a Gigi: an outgoing, unpredictable girl who catalyzes a good time but cares about the other characters.  Silberman says, “If you’re in a group of ten friends and you can’t find the Gigi, maybe you’re the Gigi: that kind of high school magical creature only gets more legendary in your memories of high school.”

Cheers to the Gigis.

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