Booksmart and Superbad are both brilliant films in their own right. Both movies deal with the coming of age stories of two inseparable besties who find themselves desperate to unleash their inner "#FOMO" before graduating high school. Beanie Feldstein's character, Molly, is strikingly similar to Jonah Hill's Seth, and it helps that the two actors are siblings in real life.
Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Dever's Amy gives off the same endearingly awkward vibes as Michael Cera before her. While there are a ton of similarities between both films, they each shine as unique and individual experiences respectively. So, let's compare the two. What does Booksmart do better than Superbad, and vice versa? Let's find out!
10 BETTER: BOOKSMART IS MORE VISUALLY INTERESTING
Superbad isn't nearly as interesting when it comes to its cinematography and visual creativity while in comparison to Booksmart. While Superbad is a classic film with a lot to offer, there is little to no visual comedy in it (unless you want to count Seth's drawings). Booksmart, on the other hand, is constantly imaginative and colorful with its visual work.
Whether it's the two girls morphing into animated Barbie Dolls after consuming special strawberries or whether it's the gorgeous sequence shot under turquoise waters as Amy gets her heart torn to pieces, nearly every scene offers something more visually unique than the next. For example, when Molly enters the house party and sees her crush Nick, she could just tuck her hair behind her ears while blushing at the floor. Instead, we get a hilarious scene where the lights dim low as she and Nick do a dramatically choreographed dance number to overly romantic music. That's the kind of visual comedy that modern-day films need a whole lot more of, so we salute you, Booksmart, for thinking outside the box.
9 WORSE: SUPERBAD IS THE ORIGINAL VERSION
Although Booksmart and Superbad are two different and individual films, it is no secret that there are a lot of pretty big similarities between the two.
The whole plot of Olivia Wilde's film is wildly similar to Superbad, along with the characters as well. So, in this case, we're going to have to give Superbad credit where it's due, seeing that it is the original version of these two undeniably similar films.
8 BETTER: BOOKSMART IS GROUNDBREAKING
While Superbad may be incredibly funny, it is by no means ground-breaking cinema. There's nothing significant in Superbad that we haven't seen before in previous films. Since its release, we had already been heavily exposed to the whole "focus on the misfits" angle, had already seen several "bromance" films, and had of course been overly exposed to the whole "loser-guy-gets-the-hot-girl-somehow" dynamic. Booksmart, on the other hand, can be considered ground-breaking for several reasons.
For one, it is a mainstream film that finally focuses on the romantic arc between two women without making a big deal at all over the fact that they're gay. It just is what it is, and everyone can accept it as they should. Superbad hasn't necessarily aged well in comparison, with its cheap and dated jokes. What also makes Booksmart so important is its focus on the female version of a "bromance," which is a rare find in cinema, yet it is becoming more and more recognized with the likes of Bridesmaids, LadyBird, and Broad City.
7 WORSE: SUPERBAD IS MORE REALISTIC
Either Superbad is more realistic while depicting the average high school experience, or we've gotten old enough to need a walking stick. In our years in high school, no-one was as nice and accepting as they are in Booksmart. Then again, maybe times really have changed in the past half of a decade and everyone is as inclusive and open-minded as they all seem to be in Olivia Wilde's film.
As much as we should strive for this to be the case, for the majority of schools across America, it is not. That is why Superbad wins for portraying a more accurate and self-deprecating depiction of the average high school experience, thus making it more relatable to audiences.
6 BETTER: BOOKSMART HAS A BETTER CONCEPT
The whole concept of Booksmart is a lot more creative and overall more intellectually stimulating than Superbad. In Olivia Wilde's film, the concept is that getting straight A's and constantly studying instead of partying doesn't automatically make you more intelligent than everyone else. That's just being "book smart".
When Molly and Amy realize you can be an intellectual and do keg stands at parties, they start to develop major #FOMO. This concept is a lot more interesting and at the same time more stimulating than Superbad's simple "let's end high school with a bang" formula that we've surely seen before.
5 WORSE: McLOVIN VS JARED
In Booksmart, Jared is a character who feels strikingly similar to McLovin in the sense that they're both extremely awkward oddballs who, at the same time, somehow seem to exude this effortless confidence that's almost charming.
While Jared is interesting enough and certainly likable without a doubt, he is nothing compared to McLovin, who is just an instant classic of a character. Over a decade since Superbad's release, we still reference McLovin to this day. Superbad takes the cake with this type of character who just garners more laughs than Jared.
4 BETTER: BOOKSMART IS A MORE NECESSARY FILM
Superbad is a good film, but it isn't exactly a necessary film. In other words, our world would probably be just the same if it was never released (yet a world without McLovin references is not necessarily a world we'd care to live in). Booksmart, though, seems much more necessary, because it normalizes so many things that are still considered stigmatized, even in 2019.
It fully normalizes lesbian relationships, it normalizes female sexuality, and it normalizes women who are not all a size zero. Booksmart depicts a universe that oozes with acceptance and inclusion without ever running of the risk of becoming preachy. It gives everyone a voice, especially those who have previously not had one in film. In that sense, it is much more necessary in comparison to Superbad.
3 WORSE: AMY VS EVAN
Although Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) is an incredible character, Michael Cera just seems to be more invested in his portrayal of Evan. With Michael Cera, he puts his whole body into the awkwardness of his character, while Kaitlyn Dever's Amy just doesn't seem to have the same effort or energy invested in her role.
For example, in the scenes where the characters Amy and Molly are complimenting each other on their outfits, Beanie Feldstein is bursting with energy, while Kaitlyn Dever looks a bit dead-eyed as though she's waiting for Wilde to call "cut!" so she can go home and take a long nap. Although Dever does a great job in the film, it's just small moments when you feel as though she could've taken her performance a step further, which makes you appreciate the work Michael Cera put into his role.
2 BETTER: BOOKSMART'S SOUNDTRACK VS SUPERBAD
The soundtrack for Superbad is pretty great, but the musical choices for Booksmart are even better. The soundtrack is wildly important in a film, because it sets up the mood and the energy for any given scene. Superbad definitely has the proper soundtrack in order to pump up the energy, yet Booksmart is able to step that energy up a notch, including during the scenes that are meant to be emotional.
The soundtrack alters from being both insanely fun and wildly heartbreaking when it needs to be. During the scene in the pool when Amy sees her crush kissing Molly's crush, "Slip Away" by Perfume Genius plays, and it is undeniably haunting. There is nothing "undeniably haunting" in Superbad, if we're just going to be truthful.
1 BETTER: BOOKSMART HAS BILLIE LOURD AS GIGI
The one missing ingredient of Superbad is a character who is as incredible and hilarious as Billie Lourd's Gigi. Gigi lights up our whole world, she sparks a fire in our hearts, and she is so meme-worthy it's not even funny.
Gigi will go down in the books as one of the most iconic movie characters of all time, and we know Carrie Fisher is somewhere looking down at her daughter, beaming with pride. Gigi alone gives Superbad a major run for its money, and we'd pay to see a spinoff dedicated to this magical character who just came out of nowhere like a sparkling unicorn in early-2000s clothing.