Teen Comedy Double-Feature: Superbad & Booksmart
Updated: Sep 26
It's been a while.
Teen comedies have established themselves not only as a sub-genre of Comedy films but as their own unique thing. They are interesting to me because, unlike most other genres of film, they have been written, edited, shot, and cast to appeal to a very specific audience: teenagers.
Despite this, as I say, teen movies have become extremely popular over the last few decades, becoming the subject of many IMDb rankings, iTunes leaderboards, and of course, countless Buzzfeed quizzes.
So, without further ado, lets review two of the most successful teen comedies to date.
Superbad, released to theaters in 2007, swept audiences by storm and became one of the most talked about and quoted films of the past two decades, raising a total of over $170 USD worldwide. The film was directed by Greg Mottola and stars Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as three high-schoolers in their senior year on the brink of graduation, dealing with friendships, college, parties, and A LOT more. Superbad is packed to its tip with content. There is lots going on, making the film incredibly entertaining. The movie is not unlike a theme park. Despite this, Superbad still manages to feel contained enough to not be overwhelming to its audience members.
One might assume based on the film's overwhelming success that it completely revolutionizes the teen comedy. This is not true. Superbad doesn't do many things differently than its relatives of the genre at all; the film focuses on perfecting all of the qualities that make teen comedies good. This is what makes Superbad such a success among this genre of movies: it does everything, every trope, cliché, perfectly.
But, despite this, the film is still, as I say, riddled with formulaic elements.
The script and performances of Superbad are quite great, surprisingly. These elements of film usually end up being the downfall of most comedies in this genre, yet that is not the case when talking about Superbad. The movie's characters are cast to perfection, and the lines they are saying are witty and hilarious. It is not a stretch to say that this film will likely put you in stitches.
In conclusion, Superbad is what most people would consider the perfect teen comedy. Those people would not be far from the truth. The film does everything a teen comedy should do, and it does it right. But, as a film, Superbad is still rather predictable and formulaic, saved by a tight script and hilarious performances.
Released last year, Booksmart was an instant success, proclaiming its title among many as the "girl-Superbad," a true honor for a teen comedy.
The film stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as two high-shcoolers who realize too late that they have wasted their teenage years studying and focusing too strongly on getting into good colleges, while the rest of their classmates were partying and having fun, while still managing to get into good schools.
Booksmart tackles some surprisingly mature thematic topics for a teen comedy. The film discusses friendship, relationships, sexual orientation, bullying, and much more, all in its 105 minute run-time. The overall message of the film is much deeper than Superbad's, along with many other movies of the genre, somehow managing to pull it off without sounding cheesy.
Booksmart's strengths are, like Superbad's, the performances and script. The young actresses portraying the protagonists of the film are phenomenal, delivering hilarious performances along with clever and equally funny dialogue from the film's screenplay.
Surprisingly, however, the movie's secondary characters are just as enjoyable to watch on screen as the protagonists, something Superbad didn't quite manage to achieve. In fact, some of the movie's best moments come from the secondary characters.
Another strength of Booksmart is its production value. There are elements featured in this film that just feel high-quality, such as the outfits worn, the flashy cinematography, the beautiful camera-work, and the music choices. Booksmart also features surprisingly great special effects, and a full stop-motion animated sequence.
Despite all of these amazing qualities, however, the film still features some formulaic plot elements and clichés, detracting from its final score.
In conclusion, Booksmart is an intelligent, hilarious, and well-acted comedy discussing important thematic topics while delivering some of the funniest moments of the past decade in comedy films.
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