“Booksmart” Reminds Me How Long It’s Been Since “Superbad” Became my “Coming-of-Age” Movie

If you were lucky enough to be a senior in high school when a film like The Breakfast Club or American Pie came out, it’s a special moment. Each speaks to that specific era of high schoolers. It’s the one everyone quotes or talks about and if you haven’t seen it, it’s almost like you’re missing out on a great thing.

Booksmart is coming out this week and just going by reviews, it will be a must-see for young adults, especially those currently in high school and college.

Some are quick to compare it to Superbad, but critics say its not just a female version of the 2007 film, but its own, unique take on two smart high school seniors, one who is a lesbian, who got into good schools and attempt to have one wild night of fun before graduating.

Speaking of Superbad, that’s my “coming-of-age” film. That’s a film I can still quote 12 years later. Really? 12 years?! I was about to turn 18 when that came out. Do the math.

WARNING: Spoilers if you haven’t seen it. Also, why haven’t you? Also, I’m discussing an R-rated film. Some language.

Where do I start with this movie?

First, the idea that writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg starting writing the screenplay while in high school gives the film its own originality.

Second, the cast. Jonah Hill, who had smaller roles in prior films, got to be the star along with Michael Cera, who most, if not all of us, were introduced to in this film. Christopher Mintz-Plasse? “Who is this dorky guy?” we all thought when he appeared as Fogell. Who knew he’d become a legend of teen films. Emma Stone can win more Oscars than Meryl Streep in her career, but she’ll always have “Superbad” as her first feature film credit.

The plot seems simple. Two friends, Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera), set out to lose their virginity before graduation. Seth is a little more aggressive in this quest, while Evan has his eyes on Becca, who actually likes him back and doesn’t know it until later.

Foggel (Mintz Plasse) is their dorky friend who gets a fake I.D. with just one name: McLovin. At that point of the film, you forget his real name. He’s McLovin for life.

Jules (Stone) is the girl Seth is eyeing and says he can get liquor for a party she’s having that night.

Superbad goes beyond the plot when it comes to the comedy in it.

The writing, for one, felt real. 17-18 year-olds swear. Your kid isn’t an angel, parents.

I said “shit” and “fuck” in conversations. I (casually) still do it today. I have some unique filter in my brain and have never done it accidentally on radio. I’m wired weird.

But anyway, high school kids swear, because it seems cool. Superbad didn’t shy away from it.

Hill’s Seth character paints a portrait of obscenities throughout, while Cera’s Evan does it in an awkward, but hilarious way.

Second, some of the parts that got the biggest laughs are just so random, but that’s where the comedy is at its finest.

Seth’s rant on the soccer field with Evan is one (several great quotes to pick from). Also, his fascination with the male anatomy as a kid is a montage of its own that is so gross but so hilarious at the same time. We all doodled in school, but that was, um, quite something Rogen and Goldberg came up with. Also, the scene where Seth and Evan realize Fogell has a fake I.D. from Hawaii that says he’s 25 and just named “McLovin” is just as quotable.

I can’t leave out Rogen and Bill Hader’s roles as cops who never act like ones, as they play along with Fogell claiming to be a Hawaiian resident of legal age.

Also, the scene where Hader is double-fisting drinks after he and Rogen bust a house party is 10 great seconds you may forget the first time you watch it. If I remember, they didn’t arrest anyone and just yelled random, stereotypical police cliches to mess with them.

When the kid opens the door, Hader says “Oh, no! It’s the cops!”

Later, as they walk around with their flashlights, Rogen says “I assume you all have guns and crack.”

In the end, Seth and Evan’s friendship gets tested, knowing both aren’t going to college together, with Evan venting his frustration about Seth’s behavior but in the end, they both realize how much they care about one another. We all have a friend we’d carry out of a party while they’re passed out when the cops show up, right? That’s where it goes beyond the over-used plot of teen movies previously discussed.

Superbad also has a very unique soundtrack.

The opening credits look like something out of a 1970s film (the old Columbia Pictures logo is in there, too) as silhouettes of Hill and Cera dance to Bar-Kay’s 1976 song “Too Hot to Stop”. You watch this the first time and say, “hmm, this will be different”.

Jean Knight, The Four Tops, Rick James and other artists, mainly in the soul and R&B genre, are featured in transition scenes, montages and other moments. We get “Big Poppa” from Notorious B.I.G. and Evan singing a rendition of The Guess Who’s “These Eyes” and the band’s original recording later on.

It would be so easy to include songs from the last five to ten years in this film, but music the target audience doesn’t know worked so well in this film and more modern tracks would have felt out of place. “Too Hot to Stop” has been on my iTunes playlist since 2007. I knew The Guess Who because my dad had their best of album in his car years before.

The film also sucked me into the Seth Rogen vortex. I didn’t like Knocked Up, he was great in the supporting cast of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, but I paid more attention to movies like Pineapple Express and Zack and Miri Make a Porno after Superbad.

In the end, Superbad did everything right in a “coming-of-age” film.

It helps that its writers started punching up a script when they were in high school, so it feels realistic and they’re not normal stereotypes being written by 40-something writers. The dialogue is realistic (again, your kid swears), the comedy is well thought-out and timely. Also, music you’ve never heard before ends up fitting like a glove.

Hopefully, the kids in high school and college today who see Booksmart remember why it was their “coming-of-age” film when 2031 rolls around.

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