Superbad is a parable of values and friendship, reminding us that a good and earnest moral upbringing will be able to safely glide us through life and make us achieve happiness much easier. Its characters are well-mannered and sweet, not to mention inherently likable, as well as everything being morally correct and admirable.
Now onto the real review. Superbad is a shamelessly raunchy R-rated comedy with more four letter words than a Webster dictionary. Again, this sounds like the introduction I'd give a poorly rated film. By no means is Superbad a bad comedy. It is a smart, witty, and factual teen movie side-stepping clichés and underwritten primary characters, while at the same time remaining funny and entertaining until the end.
2007 was the year where Judd Apatow took off. He gained attention in 2005 with The 40 Year Old Virgin, but pretty much garnered a household name with this and Knocked Up, both starring Seth Rogen. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that Superbad is an autobiography, since the writers of the film, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, share the same names as the lead actors. Maybe that could be why this feels so sentimental and close to home. Or maybe it's because Superbad is aware what kind of unsettling situations high school can put you through and knows how to document them in a fun way.
The film centers around loudmouth pervert Seth (Hill) and self-conscious, paranoia-stricken Evan (Cera) as they endure their last few weeks of being high schoolers before they are shipped off to separate colleges. Seth and Evan have been friends for years, and are tired of the fact that their separate ways have been the talk of their parents and friends.
Seth has a crush on the recently-popular Jules (Stone), a beautiful redhead, who trusts him with supplying alcohol for her party. Evan has a crush on Becca (MacIsaac), a sweet and simple girl who agrees to meet up with him at Jules' upcoming party as well. In order to purchase the alcohol, both Seth and Evan trust their pal Fogel (Mintz-Plasse), who plans to acquire a fake ID. Because of this ID, Fogel now becomes his fake name, "McLovin," a name that has garnered much fame on the web.
The night unfolds into a chaotic spectacle of unprecedented stature, so much so that I won't go into explaining the routes and acts of desperation the characters take in order to be liked, admired, or even noticed. Fogel winds up teaming up with two police officers (Hader and Rogen) who act more like the bad guys rather than good guys. This setup and sort of topsy-tursvy treatment of character roles create limitless comedic possibilities, most of which are well utilized.
But what truly makes the film work is its level of realism and intelligence. It has wit, and puts it to use. The writing and acting captures the awkwardness of the teenage lifestyle with pinpoint accuracy, at the same time makes it fun and painful to witness. I can think of quite a few films that allow their characters to thrive on ego and self-interest, with no redeeming qualities. Here, the characters in Superbad just want to fit in and achieve the girl of their dreams, but shallow stereotypes and one stutter too many prevent this goal from happening.
Superbad is quite a rarity; a funny, good-natured comedy focusing on things of the immoral nature. Just like with American Pie, too many people believe these films are just raucous sex comedies with no substance, soul, or charm. The characters are likable and charismatic, and lack the oh-so-typical nihilistic, "I just want to have sex with anything that moves" mentality. Some may be surprised at the level of nuanced emotional instances the film reaches. The performances are fun, the writing is polished and witty, and the antics never seem to go over the top. It's too bad the women roles in the film feel a tad underwritten. Hopefully we have something like Supergood to explore that angle sometime soon.
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Emma Stone, and Martha MacIsaac. Directed by: Greg Mottola.
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