I was a sophomore in college when Superbad came out. I was in sixth grade when American Pie debuted. I am in my early thirties now. Superbad will always be the high school hero’s journey movie for me. The Binge will probably be that for anyone born between 1998 and 2006.
Skyler Gisondo is our hero, Griffin. You may have seen him in Ed Helm’s Vacation, Booksmart, or The Righteous Gemstones. Dexter Darden, from The Maze Runner series, is Hags, the sidekick. Eduardo Franco, also from Booksmart and American Vandal, is the long-lost friend Andrew. They live in the future US where all drugs and alcohol are illegal except for one night. Griffin’s journey is a literal journey to the coolest drug and alcohol-fueled party in the city to ask his crush and childhood friend, Lena (Grace Van Dien), to prom. Lena is also the daughter of the principal, Vince Vaughn.
The male cast is more diverse than past high school movies. The lead is still a heterosexual white male, but his best friend is black, and Andrew is Mexican American. It is a half-step in the right direction. There is one scene with a same-sex couple, but then one of the partners kisses a girl. There is an incredibly wealthy set of cliquey girls. If you are a car fan it is hard not to notice the gorgeous E-type Jaguar in front of the Aston Martin convertible which is in front of a 911 cabriolet with an i8 and a classic Mercedes also taking up driveway space. I don’t understand that scene at all.
Facebook and other forms of social media were just starting to get going when Superbad came out. It is fully ingrained in our society now, but it only plays a minor role in this movie. There are throwaway lines about getting triple-digit likes on a post and video chatting is used throughout. The aversion to pick up the phone and call someone is present. The face to face interactions carry the movie and it should not date itself too quickly.
Like most high school movies, the young cast is great and leaves me optimistic for their future careers. Two thirds already showed off their skills in Booksmart, a much better movie. Movies like this will continue to be made on a regular cadence. They will speak to the same segment of the population each time, and that means a brand-new audience. The Binge is funny enough to hold your attention and the jokes, while repetitive at times are funny. If you are going in knowing this is a teenage, high school, drugs, and drinking movie, then you won’t be disappointed.