The Evolution of Sex Comedies: Book Smart and the Good Boys

For those of you who don’t know a “Sex Comedy” is a type of comedy film usually revolving around a teenager coming of age and going through puberty; generally with a quest to change the protagonist’s life, or lose their virginity as the main plotline. These sort of films have taken on many different forms over the decades they’ve been around, rising to feature film prominence in the mid-’50s to late ’60s, with films starring Marilyn Monroe, before breaking through with the release of Animal House in the ’70s. However, modern teenage sex comedy films can trace their origins to the 1983 release of Risky Business; which turned the movies away from the Romantic Comedy elements of the past and towards the Coming of Age themes the genre would become tied to, leading to where we are now. The year 1999 would be huge for the Sex Comedy genre as it saw the release of American Pie, the film where a man has sex with a pie, which became a huge hit and saw every studio trying to get in on the action, starting the boom off. However, history aside, in recent years the genre has faded from prominence, perhaps replaced by the Slacker or Stoner genre? That is until recently when they have been reborn; they are mostly no longer crass and over-reliant on gross-out humour; now, they are more mature and thoughtful. I believe this renaissance began with the Netflix comedy series Big Mouth. Big Mouth focuses on a group of teens as they navigate the waters of puberty, and while the show does use some puerile jokes, it is also incredibly accurate and at times reflective on the nature of being a teenager.
Furthermore, a milestone in the genre was the release of Blockers last year, that gender-swapped the standardised male-driven story of “I need to lose my virginity on Prom night” to show it from the girl’s point of view. To that end, I think Blockers revitalised the Sex Comedy genre and added some much-needed weight to the themes of growing up and moving on with your life; even presenting it from the parent’s viewpoint at times of not wanting to see their children grow up and leave them. This trend carried on to this year’s Book Smart, which showed what it’s like to be something you’re not and to realise it’s okay to be who you are.
Self-identity was always a theme that was at the heart of these sort of films, with the idea that just being you will get you what you want; the protagonist may try and be someone else or assume different personality traits to get what they want, but ultimately it’s who they really are that shines through in the end; and that’s the point that’s the arc, learning to love yourself and knowing that even when you grow up you’re still you. As I am writing this, I am waiting on a chance to see Good Boys the latest film in the Sex Comedy genre, and I am both intrigued by it, but also disheartened. In some ways, this film may well add something new to the style as the protagonists in it are younger than we’ve ever seen in a movie of this sort before. Sadly though from what I’ve seen thus far, I doubt this film with have the maturity or, thoughtfulness to say much about the teenage or, in this case, preteen experience. Hopefully, we see more films like Blockers and Book Smart in the future.

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