Film review by: Witney Seibold


            “Superbad” is loaded with profanity, but is never once profane. The teenagers in the film swear up a storm, but they aren’t the usual movie teenagers who are just mouth an adult-written script; they seem to be speaking in their own language. That language just seems to be obsessed with drink and sex. But, y’know, in a fun way.


            Graduating high school senior/virgin Seth (Jonah Hill) seems to know the rules: if girls drink too much, especially right after high school graduation, they will inevitably sleep with just about anyone. Seth is a chubby and awkward kid, so his ambitions stop there; real romance (especially with his crush Jules, played by Emma Stone) is out of the question. His best friend Evan (Michael Cera) is just as awkward, just as virginal, and has a desperate crush on Becca (Martha MacIsaac). Seth and Evan are asked a few times “How come I never see you at parties?” by people who do not realize that they are too geeky to be invited to said parties. The boys catch word of a year-end house party, and are roped into getting the booze for it. Seth realizes that if he successfully scores the booze for the party, it will not only encourage the desired sexual activity, but will increase his social standing; the boy who brings booze is cooler than the boy who does not. They enlist the help of their friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), even geekier than the two of them combined, but cool enough to have a fake I.D., albeit one that lists him as a 25-year-old named “McLovin.”


            The quest to get booze takes them down some strange paths. They run into adult partiers who force them to sing or dance. Fogell is taken away by two lackadaisical cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader). The frantic race has them carrying beer in bleach bottles and tucking beer down their pants. Eventually they do make it to the party, but things don’t really turn out as expected. I’ll leave it vague like that.


            I know this all sounds like a low-rent “Animal House” ripoff, and could easily have seen a stupid drunken grossout. But it is not. It’s earnest and funny and the teen characters are easy and fresh. When one looks at the film’s pedigree, you begin to understand why. It was produced by Judd Apatow, the mastermind behind “Knocked Up,” who has never been interested in typical sitcom outcomes, even if he operates in the typical sitcom mould. His buddy, director Greg Mottola, studied the technique well. The screenplay was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who named the lead boys after themselves, and is presumably autobiographical.


            The finale does not center on kids getting laid, and the final triumph, although you are rooting for our geeky heroes, does not involve actually drinking scored booze. Instead, the film becomes about the tenuous friendship of the two lead boys, and how they are forced to grow up, if only a little, by actually discussing feelings and junk. Emulating adults (drinking and having sex) is not what makes the kids come of age in this film, and what a relief. It’s actual growing up that does it.


            There are a few gratuitously immature moments in the film: there’s a weird aside in which one of the boy reveals an obsession with drawing penises. It’s funny but kind of unnecessary. But it doesn’t reach for the fratboy shock of a “Eurotrip” or “American Pie.” It puts teenagers in teenage situations, and has them blindly grope their way through to their passions. Just like most of us did as teenagers.

             The film does earn its “R” rating, but is, like I said, not offensive. I think it’s o.k. to take your teen to the film, so long as you’re prepared to talk to them afterwards.

Published in: on September 6, 2007 at 10:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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