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Booksmart vs. Superbad

936 words

Superbad (2007) is not a great teen movie. The constant whining of the Jonah Hill character acts as a drag on the narrative. His selfishness, his braying voice, his chubby face, and his man-boobs test the viewer’s patience. But Superbad was good enough to have an impact in its time, and remains watchable. It has solid secondary characters, a compelling story, and enough social realism to remain of interest.

Now comes Booksmart (2019). Following the trend of the moment, this new film attempts to imitate Superbad, with updated Leftist politics and girls replacing the boys. It has the same “last day of high school” timeframe and even has an exact female replica of the Jonah Hill character: an obnoxious, overweight, annoying, and deeply unattractive young woman who unfortunately holds the same central role in the story.

The plots of the two films are very similar: the two misfit girls are on a mission to have all the high school fun they missed out on, because they were too busy being “good girls” who were “booksmart.” Weirdly, though, the two girls are not in fact “good,” “booksmart,” or smart in any other way. I would be tempted to call the two girls “lame” and “boring” – but that isn’t accurate, either. What they really are is badly written characters in a shit movie. Their personalities don’t make sense. Their friendship feels fake. They don’t resemble actual people. These are huge problems, and they instantly destroy any credibility Booksmart might have had. Nothing in this movie resembles real life.

What Booksmart does resemble is terrible musical theater. The film is super-gay. There are no chads, no skaters, no jocks – indeed, no normal males to speak of. There is no McLovin, the ballsy nerd who so enlivened Superbad. Such a character would be impossible at this sub-human level of filmmaking.

Booksmart is politically correct to the point of absurdity. It’s campy, stupid, embarrassing, and confusing. Nobody is attractive or sexy in the film. Nothing that happens is satisfying. There are no interesting fashions, no new teen trends, the girls’ rooms aren’t interesting, and nobody has a cool car. Instead of endless dick jokes, it has endless vagina jokes, which are wincingly unfunny.

It’s peculiar how unfunny Booksmart is. You’d think every once in a while, one of the jokes would work. But you’d be wrong. None of the jokes worked. It was like watching a no-hitter in baseball. In one scene when our two young ladies are in a taxi, they decide to look at porn on their phones for no discernable reason. Somehow, the porn gets hooked into the cab’s stereo system so that the cabbie can hear it, too. (In a pointless coincidence, he’s also their college counselor.) A squishy, rhythmic sound is heard. Everyone is so embarrassed. Ha! (I’m kidding. It’s not funny at all.)

The pacing of the film is terrible. The music, which comes in tiny, three-second bursts, often has nothing to do with what’s happening. It is so randomly placed and badly chosen a cool beat began to play in one scene, I felt my body relax for a second, as in, “Aw, finally something good” – but within seconds, it was over.

By contrast, there is a scene in Superbad when two of the bumbling teenaged boys wander into an adult party full of twenty-something bad-asses and smoking-hot chicks. As the teens realize where they are, the film goes into slow motion, and the intro to Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” begins to play. This cinematic trope has been done a million times before, but it still works, and put goosebumps up my arms.

The physical humor was another disastrous problem in Booksmart. In Superbad, Jonah Hill gets beaten up, knocked around, and hit by a car twice. Although it’s not my favorite thing to watch a fat kid get hit by a car, it wasn’t visually repulsive. In Booksmart, the overweight girl also falls down, gets knocked over, and flails around in various ways. The jiggling flesh was horrible to behold.

Booksmart was directed by actress Olivia Wilde. Before I saw the film, I heard several people mention this fact as if it would automatically recommend the film. “It’s directed by Olivia Wilde!” I don’t know what she has done before. She looks like an uptight lesbian. Why would producers assume she could direct? It turns out she can’t. But she is a narrative-enforcing feminist filmmaker, so millions of people are going to be subjected to this cinematic trainwreck whether they like it or not.

In the theater where I saw it, a trio of youngish women were sitting in front of me, and they did laugh every once in a while. I could feel their attitude was “It’s for us!” and so they were giving it every chance. How sad that this is their movie. I wanted to say to them, “This is what the Hollywood thinks of you.” They think you’re fucking stupid.

Booksmart did one good thing: It confirmed to me that we live in a time of complete cultural collapse. American popular culture – once the envy of the world – has hit rock-bottom. In my medium-sized city, Booksmart has been in wide release in theaters for over a month, which means that people are actually going to see it – apparently because there’s nothing better on.

Superbad feels like a classic in comparison. Whatever else it was, it tried to be a funny, relatable teen drama. It was somewhat original in its execution. But now they won’t even give us that. Instead, they pound us over the head with their imbecilic politics and incompetent filmmaking.

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  1. Theon
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Jeez, and the critics have praised Booksmart to the moon—97% on rotten tomatoes. Hard to believe Superbad is a decade ago! And I thought movies were Superbad then! But no it could get worse, much worse! I watched Bumblebee on the plane and the character interaction and dialogue were so bad any random group of high schoolers could do something better.

    Four watchable movies last year: Chappaquidick for documentary reasons, otherwise quite depressing; Crazy Rich Asians for its exoticism and lack of black worship, otherwise quite schoolgirlish, The Favourite, best movie, a funny take on Gorhmenghast; the Mule, ok but tendentious in the Hollywood way.

  2. Happy Larry
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    This has similarly happened in the literary world with Sally Rooney and her novel, ‘Conversations With People’. It’s been lauded as the “millennial’s Catcher in the Rye.” I can’t compare it to Catcher since I have no interest in reading a teenager rant but Rooney’s work is not a modern classic. It’s characters are dull and the world they inhabit is flat. Of course that doesn’t matter seeing as Rooney is a card carrying Anti-English Marxist who has all the right opinions on all the right issues. It’s almost as though they are reviewing the writers opinions first and the work second.

    Really (I’m pulling my own personal preferences here slightly) this is what has happened to syllabus on English courses. The Brontes are becoming more and more prevalent over Jane Austen since the sisters work is more tenable for positive feminist readings. It’s a slow method in icing out Austen as she still carries popular weight. Many women love her work, as do many men (including myself), but the knives are already popping out opinion pieces of the “she is problematic” variety. They did it to Sir Walter Scott, a great and innovative novelist, they will sure enough do it to Austen once the time is right. If she is lucky, she will be placed on courses alongside Lovecraft and Poe in the, “undesirable” section.

    The Brontes however, remain the imperfect suffragettes. They Lived in an affluent household that foisted a creative atmosphere much like the childhood the early feminist activists had. Benefits led to arrogance and ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ perfectly show that worldview of entitlement most feminists scholars share. Of course, now all modern adaptations of ‘Wuthering Heights’ must make the animistic Heathcliffe a POC because we live in modern world or something.

    • threestars
      Posted June 27, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Well, I do hope Sir Walter Scott gets relocated to the children’s section alongside most of R.L. Stevenson’s work. We live in far too serious times for adventure novels now, not to mention that we have a medium better suited for light entertainment than the written word ever was.

      What’s really worth decrying is how Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf comes off to today’s students as a sort of argument for hedonism instead of the Nitzschean lament at the death of true life-meaning that it actually is.

      • lucinda-othala
        Posted June 29, 2019 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        Literature student gang reporting: I wrote an analysis of Steppenwolf using a [tentative] synthesis of archetypal psychology and Traditionalist metaphysic and philosophy along the Evola/Guenon lines for my independent project this year. I focused a lot on Haller as an expression of Man in terminal Modernity, detached from the authentic principles [and trying albeit not quite succeeding in reclaiming them via the Magic Theatre] that gave his existence meaning. Even when I was stuck in the default liberal indoctrination mode of a college student [I read it then, 2 years before university], the popular interpretation as you mentioned still didn’t quite sit right with me and I intuitively couldn’t get behind it – anyway, my point is that it similarly frustrates me and the aforementioned essay was motivated quite heavily by a desire to attack that convention. I somehow managed to get a First but it was most likely because my tutor wasn’t familiar enough with Steppenwolf to have an investment in the PC interpretational norm.

  3. threestars
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    >Jonah Hill character
    >central role in the story.

    Wasn’t Michael Cera’s character the main focus of the story in Superbad? With the annoying fat guy and the clueless nerd acting as foils for the hero to contend with along his path to maturity? I remember they all get their fair share of conclusion and McCharacter arc at the end, but still Cera being the one with which the audience was supposed to relate with.

    Truth be told, it’s been a while, so I might remember it poorly.

  4. Major1
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Figure it out.
    Men cannot have anything of their own, untouched by feminism and grrrl-power.
    Whites cannot have anything of their own, untouched by the soulful caress of Negroes.
    I noticed the new Men In Black movie has a Black woman in a lead role.
    I saw Witness with Harrison Ford on TV not too long ago. What a great movie, set in an all-White Amish community. I couldn’t help but dread the inevitable remake, featuring the tiresome Samuel L Jackson in the lead role, spewing F-bombs and pimp-slapping bitches down the block, and instead of the Amish we’ll get an enclave of wise but sassy black hoes who can dispense timeless wisdom or a hail of 9mm slugs as the situation dictates.
    Sigh…I get so tired of this shit sometimes. Stop the planet. I’d like to get off now.

  5. Deep North
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    We should make a movie called Crazy Rich Jews.

  6. Oil Can Harry
    Posted June 27, 2019 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    “Booksmart is politically correct to the point of absurdity.”

    I haven’t seen- and will never see- this film but it sounds like it contains two un-p.c. aspects that somehow got passed the Tribe:

    1. They play a song by the Nuge! And probably Uncle Ted’s best ever: “Stranglehold”, featuring a killer bass line.

    2. A fat chick is the butt of humor, something that may soon be declared a form of prejudice and banned from future Hollywood scripts.

    BTW Olivia Wilde is a member of the leftist Cockburn family, the best of whom was her uncle Alexander, a progressive with integrity. He supported the First and Second Amendment and always ripped into globalists, the $PLC, the state of Israel and other public nuisances.

  7. Sutter
    Posted June 30, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    “There are no chads, no skaters, no jocks – indeed, no normal males to speak of”

    Well, this is accurate, at the very least. In the modern American high school, white males are not jocks because kids of other races dominate the coolest sports, are not chads, because white males are feminized as all hell, and are not skaters, because hollywood has stopped promoting punk lifestyles, due to the fact that their ideas are hegemonic and so they do *not* want rebellion.

    What do teenage white male boys do, these days? Vidya.

  8. James Dunphy
    Posted July 1, 2019 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    I like your stuff. Keep it coming.

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