Released in 2007, Greg Mottola‘s Superbad was a generation-defining, culture-calcifying comedy. It represents a certain height of the powers of Judd Apatow‘s film posse, and opened the door for a few other generations of comedy talent afterward, from writers Seth Rogen and Andrew Goldberg to stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill. It introduced new iconography into the pop culture lexicon, especially Christopher Mintz-Plasse‘s work as the immortal “McLovin.” And most importantly, it’s just a goshdarn quality film, one that blends unprecedented raunch with welcome heart, emphasizing the powers of friendship, love, and constructive growth.
If you love Superbad and want more teen comedy standouts like it, we’ve got your back. Put away your dick drawings and check out these seven movies to watch after you’ve gotten Superbad.
While it comes from the same director as Superbad, Adventureland is a much quieter, and perhaps richer affair. Set in the ’80s, Jesse Eisenberg is an aimless college grad who takes a summer job at a local fair, interacts with all kinds of colorful characters played by folks like Martin Starr, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader, and just maybe finds a life-affirming spark with fellow drifter Kristen Stewart. The two unorthodox teen idols find engaging chemistry in this patiently, warmly rendered film, the kind of dramedy that expands your heart and makes you nostalgic for a time that never quite existed.
Sharing a similar “two best friends, one wild night” structure to Superbad, Booksmart nonetheless finds its own unique identity, one that feels lovingly in dialogue with high school movies of the past while expressing a welcome future to where the genre could go. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever have phenomenal BFF chemistry together, cracking off iconic lines and engaging repartee with ease (and absolutely crushing their end-of-act-two-dark-night-of-the-soul argument, lensed beautifully by first-time director Olivia Wilde, to boot). Booksmart is the kind of richly observed, fleetly rendered film that will make friendships across the world sparkle in recognition; a “that’s us!” watershed.
Dazed and Confused
An urtext of the hangout movie, high school movie, and “one wild night” movie, Dazed and Confused messily but richly flings you into the deep end of the dazing, confusing experience that is “being a high schooler about to graduate.” Richard Linklater, one of our great communicators of the complex, compelling drama rife in “regular human communication,” blends together this textured film with a cornucopia of developing talent including Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, and of course the iconic Matthew McConaughey.
Emma Stone easily, handily broke through the boys of Superbad. Three years later, she toplined her own teen sex comedy, Easy A, a film that plays like Superbad mixed with a little Mean Girls and some Heathers for good measure. It’s a tart-tongued picture, one that’s both frothy but acerbic, accessible but precocious. Its premise, borrowed from The Scarlet Letter, is sharpened into an irreverent statement about sex positivity. And Stone, as you might imagine, owns her leading role. She’s just a very dang good comedy actor, that Emma Stone!
It’s more than “Superbad aged down,” though that’s a good place to start. Good Boys does, indeed, star a trio of troublingly young, incredibly talented performers (Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, and Brady Noon) who bumble their way through a series of troublingly raunchy set pieces with shocking brio (including one involving Stephan Merchant that simply flabbergasted me). But the film, like Superbad, is interested in much more than the initial shock value of its premise and cast. Good Boys presents the shocking idea that being good is good even as the ever-changing world of sixth grade surrounds you and demands you get just a little bad to grow up. Heart for days, this one!
An absolute classic of the 1990s, House Party asks the simple question, “What if there were a house party?” The hosts of this house party are rap duo Kid ‘n Play (Christopher Robinson and Christopher Martin), and what comes from their simple goal is a cornucopia of silly, frenetic, and crowd-pleasing entertainment. Full of old-school jams, broadly-pitched performances, and intensely satisfying dance numbers, House Party is a “one wild night” flick of which every other one can only dream of meeting its playful energy.
Youth in Revolt
And now, a filmic comedown from the party. Youth in Revolt puts Cera back into the shoes of an awkward high schooler, but this time in a film that foreshadows his later, more purposefully provocative career choices. Under the always-intriguing eye of director Miguel Arteta, Cera escapes from the doldrums of his mom Jean Smart and stepdad Zach Galifianakis through the sparkling arms of Portia Doubleday — while simultaneously cultivating a rebellious, bad boy alter ego named “François Dillinger.” While this bold dramatic device is sometimes played for the cringe-inducing laughs you’d expect, it’s oftentimes played with a real sense of danger and darkness, making Youth in Revolt an appealing graduation from the wildness of the rest of the films on this list.
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