Superbad (2007)

1 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Welcome back to John Hughes ‘80s teen movie territory…if John Hughes had more vulgarities and risqué material in mind. The territory is welcomed back with “Superbad,” made in 2007 but feels like it was made in the ‘80s, the time of many high school teen movies. I’d say that “Superbad” is (arguably) even funnier than any movie from that category you can think of. It’s a profane, vulgar, risqué, raunchy comedy with a heart and even a brain. Director Greg Mottola and producer Judd Apatow, as well as the writers (which I will mention later), deliver the sort of teen comedy John Hughes would make if he had help from Quentin Tarantino.

As I’ve learned, the writers of this movie—Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg—wrote the script when they were thirteen and discovering girls in school. The main characters of “Superbad” are named after them. They have different personalities, but they’re best buddies because they’ve known each other for so long. They are the loud, obnoxious, unpopular, pudgy Seth (Jonah Hill) and the sweet, sensitive Evan (Michael Cera, George Michael from “Arrested Development”). They’re high school seniors who are facing the last three weeks of their high school days and worried that they won’t have sex in the next three weeks, and therefore will go to college never to have had sex.

Seth is the most worried, talking nonstop about how much he would like to be the mistake that girls make when they get drunk at parties. He wants Evan to join him, but Evan is more sensitive to the feelings of the girl he likes, named Becca (Martha MacIsaac). Then, on Friday night, they are invited to a party by a nice popular girl named Jules (Emma Stone), whom Seth likes. She asks Seth to supply alcohol for the party.

That leads to a wild night of many misadventures while trying to get booze and make it to the party in time for Seth and Evan to get the girls they want. Having his own adventure on this wild night is Seth and Evan’s even-less popular friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is unpopular even by them. His awkwardness/irritation steals many scenes and his fake ID used to help his pals get booze names him as—oh, yeah!—McLovin! Unfortunately, his attempt to get booze is upstaged and separates him from Seth and Evan, who attempt to get booze themselves. While they are at an adult party, trying not to be severely injured by the host, Fogell is cool with the most original characters in the movie—two partying cops (Rogen and Bill Hader, playing the Belushi/Aykroyd-type roles). They show Fogell a good time. Their adventures seem like their own movie—I loved watching these guys; they were hilarious and fun to watch.

It’s a teen movie through and through; with the exception of Evan’s mother, it’s a parent-free zone. Many of Seth and Evan’s problems ring true. Seth is upset because Evan is going to a different college than he is. After all these years of being friends, they may lose each other. These characters are real and convincingly played by the young actors who portray them. Michael Cera is terrific as Evan. He’s an average high school teenager who is unpopular, mostly because he’s friends with Seth. He delivers his lines as if he’s sincerely afraid he’ll say something stupid. He’s so sincere, it’s impossible to dislike him. It is possible, however, to dislike Jonah Hill because Seth is just plain loud and obnoxious. But there are moments when he reacts the way anyone reacts—for example, in a scene where he dances with a kinky older woman at the adult party, he notices “something” on his pants and acts like anyone else would react…though I don’t anyone else had this happen before. I won’t say what’s on his pants—I wouldn’t dare ruin the hilarity of that moment. The script never falls for the tired teen movie caricatures and makes the dialogue more profane and clever and the situations seem real. Another surprise: the popular girl Jules, Emma Stone, isn’t played as the usual snobby girl who’s out to get the unpopular crowd—she’s a caring soul.

“Superbad” is definitely not for everyone, especially anyone who would cringe at the sights of multiple penis drawings. But like Judd Apatow’s previous comedies, “40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” it’s a funny, smart movie—hilarious, well-acted, well-made, and “supergood,” also with a catchphrase you won’t forget easily: “I am McLovin.” Yes, he is.

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