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Overall Rating
4.29

Awesome56.52%
Worth A Look: 31.88%
Just Average: 1.45%
Pretty Crappy: 4.35%
Sucks: 5.8%

6 reviews, 33 user ratings


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Superbad
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Yes, It Is As Good As You've Been Hearing"
5 stars

The opening credits of “Superbad”–an extravaganza of retro graphics kicked off by the old Columbia Pictures logo–would seem to indicate that the entire film is meant to be a throwback to the goofy teen-oriented T&A comedies that proliferated in the early 1980's, the kind featuring smart-ass guys trying to get laid, gorgeous girls, idiotic adults, crappy music and, if you were especially lucky, an appearance from the immortal William Zabka as the uber-blonde bad guy who would harass our heroes throughout the film before getting his comeuppance in the last reel. As it turns out, however, “Superbad” is nothing like those movies at all because, to be quite frank, most of those movies were quite terrible–little more than condescending, bargain-basic craptaculars made by hacks who were working under the impression that the only things that their target audience wanted to see were bare breasts, car crashes and fart jokes. “Superbad,” on the other hand, is the kind of teen comedy that is usually only found in the minds of people trying to envision what the perfect example of such a film might be like. On the one hand, it is raunchy and outrageous and may contain more laugh-out-loud moments than any other American film to emerge this year (with the possible exception of “I Know Who Killed Me”). On the other hand, it has more on its mind than just being a big goof-off and in its own strange way, it is a film that is as smart and perceptive about adolescent relationships, separation anxiety and the mysteries of the opposite sex as such classics of the genre as “American Graffiti,” “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” and “Dazed and Confused.”

The film centers on the lifelong friendship between Seth (Jonah Hill), a loud, horny and foul-mouthed force of nature who suggests the possible offspring of a union between John Belushi and Jack Black, and Evan (Michael Cera), a smart, and quiet type with a vague terror of the world at large. No doubt as a result of both being social misfits, they have formed a wildly co-dependent relationship that has allowed them to make it through high school reasonably unscathed–they have even managed to pick up a geeky underling, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) that they can heap abuse on themselves. Now the two are in the final days of high school and are facing the seemingly unthinkable–Evan got into the good college but Seth didn’t and as a result, the two are about to finally face life without each other for the first time and to make matters, worse, Fogell did get into the same school as Evan. As a result, Seth is choked with feelings of resentment and betrayal (of course, if he put half of the effort he lends to articulating those feelings into his actual schoolwork, he probably would have gotten into the same school in the first place) but in order to stave off the inevitable, he obsessively focuses on a different problem–the fact that he and Evan will most likely be entering college as virgins. The joke about this is the fact that there are two girls at school–Jules (Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIssac) who are clearly interested in them but the two guys have been too afraid to reach out of their comfort zone to do anything about it.

What inspires them to action is Jules’ announcement that she is throwing a big party that night and Fogell’s announcement that he is about to pick up his fake I.D. In a moment of inspiration, Seth announces that he is in possession of a fake I.D. and will cheerfully purchase the booze for the party–this will serve the twin purposes of making him seem like the hero in Jules’ eyes and allow him and Evan to get her and Becca so drunk that they will sleep with them. (“You know how girls always wake up after a party and talk about how they made a big mistake by sleeping with some guy? We can be that mistake!”) Of course, he does all of this before seeing Fogell’s fake I.D. for himself–in the event that you have not learned its details for yourself, I will simply state that it may be the most amusingly implausible fake I.D. in recent memory–and he and Evan wind up going on a byzantine quest to procure alcohol that leads them to a creepy party and a number of bizarre entanglements (include a grinding dance that goes horribly and hysterically wrong) while forcing them to confront the reality of their imminent separation Meanwhile, Fogell, through a series of events that I will leave for you to discover, finds himself traveling through the night with a pair of numbskull cops (Bill Hader and Seth Rogen) who seem more like the guys you would find hanging out in a 7-11 parking lot on a Friday night than the guys you would call to shoo them away.

Based on the above description, you might think that “Superbad” sounds like just another load of normal (at least in cinematic terms) adolescent hijinks but a mere recitation of the facts doesn’t begin to do the film justice. For starters, the screenplay by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (which they supposedly began writing when they were teenagers themselves) is a little masterpiece of comedic writing. While there are the expected jokes that one inevitably finds in this kind of film–bits involving cleavage, porn sites, barfing, pratfalls, car crashes and other genre staples–Rogen & Goldberg do not rely solely on this type of level 1 humor to dominate the proceedings. Instead, they have made the radical assumption that their potential audience does not consist entirely of drooling stumblebums and have chosen to bring in a level of intelligence not often seen in this particular genre. Yes, our heroes are obsessed about sex but what makes the film so funny is the brainy and articulate ways in which they discuss their obsessions–I defy you not to laugh at Evan’s priceless response when Seth bemoans the fact that he hasn’t gotten anywhere with a girl since tenth grade and that he peaked too soon. The film is jam-packed with endlessly quotable lines but what is so impressive about them is that they don’t sound at all as if they were written–they sound exactly like the kinds of things that hyper-articulate and media-savvy kids of that age might actually say in such situations. In addition, the screenplay has been cleverly devised in such a way that it feels like a typically ramshackle teen comedy but there is a solid structure to the material that is too often absent in most contemporary comedies. (By comparison, “Knocked Up,” which was made by “Superbad” producer Judd Apatow, had a lot of funny bits but also occasionally drifted because of Apatow’s desire to let all of his buddies get their individual moments to shine, even at the expense of the main storyline.) Oh yeah, besides being cleverly conceived and written, the material is also screamingly funny to boot–as I am writing this, I have seen “Superbad” twice and I think that I may have actually laughed harder at it the second time around.

At the same time, there is a sweet and sentimental side to “Superbad” amidst all the vulgarity and weirdness. The fact that the film contains this softer side is perhaps not a surprise–since the success of “There’s Something About Mary” and “American Pie,” showed that including such material would attract a female audience not normally predisposed to gross-out comedies, many pretenders have cynically injected “heartwarming” material into the otherwise juvenile proceedings in the hopes of boosting the box-office grosses–but what is a surprise is how deftly it pulls it off. The sense of anxiety felt by Seth and Evan at their impending split is dealt with in a refreshingly direct and straightforward manner that I suspect many teenagers (as well as those who can remember their teenage years with the same clarity as Rogen & Goldberg) will immediately recognize and pick up on. The screenplay doesn’t cheat by coming up with some last-minute solution to their problems–instead, it deals with them head on while understanding that while Seth and Evan will always be friends and the idea of going down separate paths may seem scary, it isn’t the worst thing in the world (as is cleverly illustrated in the quietly lyrical final shots). Some critics have complained that the subplot involving the two wacko cops is a distraction from the main focus of the story but upon reflection, I think that it actually serves as a useful method of illustrating this point–they show us what could happen to our heroes if they decide to spend their lives together at all costs instead of branching out on their own. (Granted, this take on the material only occurred to me after I saw it for the second time as I was too busy laughing at their hijinks the first time to notice the subtle underpinnings.) I also appreciated the fact that for once, the attitude towards the women our heroes is refreshingly free of hate or contempt–although the film is driven by Seth and Evan’s desire to get into Jules and Becca’s pants, it allows us to see them as quirky, three-dimensional characters in their own rights instead of simply as random orifices, as is usually the case in films of this genre.

If you are a student of contemporary comedy, you will no doubt recognize Jonah Hill from any number of recent films (such as “Accepted” and “Knocked Up”) and Michael Cena from his great, scene-stealing role on the late, great TV series “Arrested Development.” From those previous efforts, we know going in that the two of them can deliver a well-written comedic line but what they do in “Superbad” goes far beyond that. They inhabit their characters to such a degree that it actually feels as if they have been friends their entire lives–they have that loose and allusive manner of communicating that only develops when you have known a person for years. Each one may be funny on their own–Hill’s ability to conjure up indescribably foul one-liners from out of thin air is a delight and Cera so perfectly nails the sweetly awkward type of character that he plays that you can’t imagine any way of improving it–but together, they form the most instantly engaging comedy team seen on the screen since Simon Pegg and Nick Frost arrived in “Shaun of the Dead.” As the two cops, Bill Hader and Seth Rogen also squeeze an enormous amount of laughs out of even the slenderest of comedic conceits–their interview with a recently-robbed liquor store clerk is a little masterpiece of comic timing. Although Christopher Mintz-Plasse is a newcomer making his screen debut here, he more than holds his own against his better-known co-stars to such a degree that if this film hits as big as it deserves to, he may well wind up as one of the breakout stars of the year.

Although there is a part of me that wishes that the screenplay could have found a little more for the girls to do (in their scenes with Hill and Cera, Emma Stone and Martha MacIssac demonstrate that they are fast and funny enough to keep up with the guys), that is the closest thing that I can find to a quibble with “Superbad.” This is a film that is funnier than any other American comedy in recent memory, wonderfully acted to boot and if you aren’t careful, you might even learn a thing or two. Besides, approximately two days after it comes out, everyone you know is going to start making references to “McLovin,” so you might as well see it so that you will know what they are talking about.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16125&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/17/07 01:05:26
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User Comments

5/01/12 Chimy Changa you dont know what funny is if you dont like this movie 5 stars
8/01/11 Piz No matter how many times I watch it, it's still dumb. A wanna be American Pie with gratuity 2 stars
10/09/10 art SUPER is RIGHT! 4 stars
2/08/10 Monday Morning Some hysterical moments - well worth seeing. Great coming-of-age story. 4 stars
3/29/09 R Lan typical teen sex comedy, but well done and has some funny moments. 4 stars
1/08/09 Anonymous. i am mclovin :] 4 stars
8/11/08 Jon G Overrated - Highly Unrealistic events are not amusing to me 1 stars
3/24/08 Jessica Biel's Poolboy Emma Stone is hot!!! McLovin' was hilarious 5 stars
1/08/08 BoyinTheDesignerBubble Foul mouthed teens don't impress me. Maybe if I were a perv, I'd find this a good movie! 1 stars
1/07/08 Dina Wow, talk about overrated - don't bother. 2 stars
1/03/08 lazaro garrote the movie superbad was dynomite 5 stars
12/08/07 Alice Total crap,food for low self-esteem girls and brain dead oversexed guys. 1 stars
12/04/07 action movie fan vulgar and funny teen fantasy-comedy-lots of laughs 4 stars
12/03/07 mike Superbad was Supergood! I laughed all the way through! Best comedy in years! 5 stars
12/03/07 SamanthaP this movie is sooooo true, this represents the younger days of my lives 5 stars
11/10/07 b. goldberg just so funny 5 stars
10/23/07 William Goss Foul-mouthed and funny portrait of platonic teens and the night of their lives. 4 stars
9/23/07 Jason Michael Cera makes this movie, he is a big star on the rise. 4 stars
9/10/07 Simon Don't go moralistic and cry date rape, it's a movie, just laugh your ass off. I did. 5 stars
8/30/07 samuel there's no date rape plan..funny, real goings-on in mouth gender's minds..no female hating. 5 stars
8/26/07 Ole Man Bourbon Funny for the low-brow, juvenile tone. Some recycled jokes from the other Apatow movs, tho 4 stars
8/24/07 kiran very funny movie 5 stars
8/23/07 Lattechino Yeah, pretty much a movie about a kid planning a date rape. Why is that funny? 2 stars
8/20/07 Anthony G Hilarious. 5 stars
8/20/07 Stacy That wasn't date rape, yo. Anyway, great movie, hilarious and real! 5 stars
8/20/07 hurhur date rape so funny hurrrhurrrr 1 stars
8/20/07 Greg Absolutely one of the funniest movies ever made 5 stars
8/19/07 mark madsen funny movie 4 stars
8/19/07 Meschelle Needed to be rated more than a r. 3 stars
8/18/07 Shane this movie made me cry...... FROM AWESOMENESS!!! 5 stars
8/18/07 Mahalie This was without a doubt the funniest movie I've ever seen. 5 stars
8/17/07 Dark Enchantress funny movie, the cops were awesome! 5 stars
8/16/07 G Lee truly had its funny moments... laughed out loud... totally mindless fun 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Aug-2007 (R)
  DVD: 04-Dec-2007

UK
  14-Sep-2007 (15)

Australia
  20-Sep-2007



[trailer] Trailer


Directed by
  Greg Mottola

Written by
  Evan Goldberg
  Seth Rogen

Cast
  Jonah Hill
  Michael Cera
  Christopher Mintz-Plasse
  Bill Hader
  Seth Rogen



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