Film: Booked (feature)
Screening: Saturday, Sept. 30, at 3 p.m.
DELIGHTFUL BUDDY COMEDY SPOTLIGHTS THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF MUSICAL THEATRE AND CHASING DREAMS
Synopsis: BOOKED begins when two high school theatre geeks and best friends, Kenny Harris and Owen Mitchell, are snubbed for the leads in their senior musical. To retaliate against their invalidating classmates and teacher, they audition for the world’s top BFA Musical Theatre programs to prove to everyone they have what it takes.
Part-buddy comedy, part-coming-of-age, Booked offers up a hilarious take on high school musical theatre with thespian besties Kenny and Owen. They’re definitely talented and definitely eager to shine, but when they’re passed over for the leads in Les Miserables and instead cast as “Prisoner” and “Whore #3,” they realize they need to chase bigger and bolder dreams. So Kenny and Owen craft a strategic, exhaustive, six-month plan to prep themselves for the grueling world of college musical theatre auditions.
Anyone who’s so much as tip-toed into the world of performing arts will have plenty of fun recognizing the highs and lows of musical theatre portrayed on screen. Kenny and Owen encounter many of the cheeky tropes that go hand-in-hand with the thespian world — “tropes” being a term of endearment because there’s a self-deprecating sense of humor at play that theatre kids will appreciate. To the story’s credit, too, Booked takes place in a public school where the drama teacher doesn’t know as much as her students (she totally mispronounces Les Miz and casts a near-silent performer as the lead), and non-theatre students misconstrue and make fun of the term thespian. It’s no wonder they’re desperate to rise above their station.
Likewise, anyone who’s been bold enough to pursue a serious creative path will find themselves right at home. Owen’s parents can’t wrap their heads around why he’d want to pursue a degree in “playing dress-up.” Kenny’s family feigns excitement over her looming college auditions as they ask her to show off her singing chops. And the guidance counselor (hilariously named “Ms. Kunt,” as in, “Koont”) passes over their musical theatre ambitions with dismissive ease. “Maybe look into communications,” she advises dryly, “that’s where all the dreamers end up.”
Without a true support system, Kenny and Owen chart their own destiny with wide-eyed optimism and unflagging determination. Even when their confidence wanes in the presence of high-caliber prep school students — who know the audition adjudicators by name and can stretch their legs high above their own heads with incredible ease — they muster up the gumption to perform their absolute best. Their tireless pursuit, buoyed up by their decade-long friendship, is endearing to a fault.
That’s where Booked really shines: in between the theatre-kid inside jokes and moments of dry satire, you’re always rooting for Kenny and Owen. You want them to prove everyone wrong and show the world that two public school kids, who earnestly believe in themselves and each other, can achieve what they dare to dream.