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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Superbad (2007)

Greg Mottola’s Superbad is a raunchy teen summer comedy in the tradition of Sixteen Candles and Animal House. Like John Hughes' films, Superbad perfectly captures the plight of the teenager. Three teenagers, in this case: Seth (Jonah Hill), a pudgy, self-loathing party animal, Evan (Michael Cera), a nervous nerd and Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), their awkward, bird-like sidekick.

The plot is a tale as old as time: Evan and Seth want to go to a party in order to score with their respective romantic prospects. They believe that the only way they will be accepted is if they can score a bunch of liquor, which they attempt to do using Fogell’s ridiculous fake I.D (on which he uses the single moniker “McLovin.”). Disaster follows, of course, and the three end up on a wild goose chase. What happens, however, is unpredictable, uproarious and unusually engaging for a teen comedy.

What really struck me about Superbad is the complete honesty and comfort with which the characters discuss their sexuality. Gone is the staunch hetero ideology of Porkies; sure these guys are out to get laid, but they are also surprisingly comfortable with their own sexuality and with their bond as friends (which, at times, has vaguely homoerotic overtones). These kids are almost overly familiar with sex, having educated themselves on a strict diet of Internet porn. However, they are afraid of what they know, afraid of what they would do with a willing girl. The girls of their dreams must be drunk because, in their minds, no sober girl would have them. I identified with these characters because they are smart, insecure and totally believable. The comfort with which Mottola depicts Seth and Evan’s discomfort is what makes the film so sweet and fun to watch. Superbad was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who named the main characters after themselves. It is, indeed, a deeply personal and hilarious script, and Rogen is to be commended for both his dialogue and his portrayal of an unlikely suburban police officer on a mission. Cera, however, really steals the show with his anxious, deliberate comic timing. A lot of the jokes are dumb but a lot of them are highly intelligent, too, making Superbad a comedy that will appeal to a very broad range, indeed.


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