On paper, the coinciding successes of Superbad, the latest Judd Apatow-produced raunch-fest, and High School Musical 2, the sequel to the blockbuster made-for-TV Disney Channel movie, seem unrelated.
Correspondent John Larson examined each film's success this morning on TODAY. WATCH VIDEO
Superbad exceeded expectations by topping last weekend's box office figures, grossing $31 million. High School Musical 2 set a cable TV record with 17 million viewers on Friday.
Superbadis an R-rated movie featuring plenty of sexual humor about awkward high school boys searching for alcohol and girls. High School Musical 2 is the wholesome story of two teenagers finding true love.
On paper, it seems that aside from the ages of the main characters, these films don't have a lot in common. But they are more similar than you might think.
First, let's look at High School Musical 2, which, I must admit, I haven't seen (if you have kids aged 6-16, you most likely have). It focuses on the relationship between the basketball team captain, Troy, and top student Gabriella. In the first edition of the film, Troy and Gabriella upset their rivals to win lead roles in their high school's musical production.
In the sequel, there's more singing and dancing, more romantic intrigue, and Troy and Gabriella consummate their relationship with an explosive kiss. As John Larson said in his piece this morning on TODAY, "In High School Musical, true love conquers all, with the help of a great soundtrack."
Well, he could have said the same thing about Superbad. The soundtrack includes some new and some classic funk songs, and the love is between the two main characters, Seth and Evan, who go on the quest for booze and girls. Like Troy and Gabriella, they consummate their relationship too, but rather than with a kiss, it involves a drunken hug and some loud declarations of their love for each other.
Clearly, the two films are aimed at different audiences, and I wouldn't take my 7-year-old niece, who is a fan of High School Musical, to any film Judd Apatow has ever produced.
But these movies speak to our innate desire for wholesome relationships, both romantic and platonic.
The characters in High School Musical are squeaky-clean, like they stepped out of an "Up With People" song. And by the end of the first movie, the audience is desperate for Troy and Gabriella to let their romance blossom.
The characters in Superbad are addicted to Internet porn, have trouble forming relationships not only with teenage girls but also other boys, and are outcasts in their high school community. But by the film's conclusion, they have reestablished their own devotion to each other, and there's even hope for both of them to establish wholesome relationships with the girls in their lives.
Are they basically the same movie with slightly different presentations? Well, not exactly. But is the underlying message the same? Absolutely.