Review: Superbad (2007)

D: Gerg Mottola
S: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader

Superbad is one of those movies that you will either absolutely love or absolutely hate.  It's another participant in the long (and some may say, prestigious) line of teen sex comedies, owing much of its roots to such true genre classics as Revenge of the Nerds and Porky's.  That alone should be enough to tell some people to stay as far away from this movie as humanly possible, and this fact probably plays into many of the more negative reviews that the film received.

I have to say it's quite apparent that this movie was written back while Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan were themselves still in middle school.  While updated for the times, much of the repartee among the main characters in the movie is surprisingly realistic (reminiscent of some of Kevin Williamson's better work - Goldberg and Rogan know how kids - at least back when I was coming of age - talk to each other).  The humor is juvenile and puerile, and that's exactly what makes it so damned funny!

As with any number of teen comedies, the driving force in Superbad is the main characters trying to get laid.  And, of course, in order to do that they get volunteered by their presumptive "leader" to get alcohol for a party.  Being underage, their only avenue of doing so lies in the hands of one of their friends, who says he is getting a fake ID.  When it turns out that his fake ID has one name - "McLovin" and is supposed to belong to a 26-year old Hawaiian, well things just start to go wrong.

But for all the stereotypical "teen movie" angst that's present, the movie has a surprisingly tender approach to the situation.  There's backstory to all the characters - Evan and Seth are long-time best friends about to be torn apart by the move from high school to college, and through the course of the movie they go through all the classic stages of acceptance in working through this hard fact of life.  The girls that they're trying to "get with" aren't your stereotypical teen movie bimbos, and although the language and external attitude toward women in the film might be best described as misogynist, in the end you see that the boys really do respect women far more than one might assume from their words and actions (something that would probably describe how most boys feel about girls at this stage in life).  The jokes and rude comments are a projection of the uncertainty that the boys have about women in general and their futures in specific.

Topping it all off are the great performances by Seth Rogan and Bill Hader as two police officers who find McLovin (aka Fogell) at a liquor store and take him under their wing for the night.  Many of the scenes play like a latter-day installment of Police Academy, with two cops who desperately want to be liked by this kid act like they themselves haven't yet graduated from high school.  Though I have to admit, some of these scenes are funny solely because Seth Rogan himself is just so damn funny to me.

If you're interested in watching a modern take on the classic teen comedies, Superbad is definitely right up your alley.  If, however, the thought of two soon-to-be-college kids discussing which porn site they want to have a subscription to next year doesn't intrigue you, it might be better to just pass this up and grab Little Miss Sunshine instead.