The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Superbad is Super-Good

Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic

Image As I looked around the theater at the screening of Superbad, I began to panic a bit. Other than me and a few others, the entire audience was filled with teens and twenty-year-olds. The young dude next to me said that he had obtained his pass through his frat house. Was I about to see yet another teen movie? Was I about to see tons of nude young adult flesh? Was I about to hear about two hundred thousand curse words in the course of two hours? The answer to all of these questions is yes. I should also tell you that Superbad had me laughing so loud and so often that I’m a little embarrassed, but that’s ok because embarrassment is an essential part of Superbad. But more of that later.

From its first scene where we are introduced to foul mouthed Seth (Jonah Hill) and not quite as foul mouthed Evan (Michael Cera), it's clear that Superbad is  going to be more John Waters than John Hughes. Seth and Evan are long-time buddies who are in their final weeks of high school and dealing with their impending separation. But that's in a while; of a more immediate concern is a party thrown by the beautiful Jules (Emma Stone). The boys are asked to bring the liquor, so they give that chore to their ultra geeky buddy Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who has just obtained a fake ID with the pseudonym “McLovin”. You can imagine the whole liquor assignment will not go as planned. In fact nothing goes as planned as the three friends embark on a night-long odyssey that keeps the laughs coming from start to finish.

While most of Superbad centers on the slap-stick exploits of Seth, Evan and Fogell, it’s really a buddy movie at heart, the same way that Abbott and Costello, through all of their crazy travels, were basically two friends who would be lost without each other. Seth, overweight and easily excitable, and Evan, much more calm and collected, work brilliantly together. In fact much of Seth’s dialogue seems to be written as a stand-up routine, albeit an extremely vulgar one; it’s no coincidence that he wears a t-shirt with the image of Richard Pryor. Most of the scenes between the two boys consist of explicit talk about body parts and what Seth wants to do with them. We are immediately thrust into their curious and horny world, and credit has to be given to writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for never looking back. Superbad certainly has the courage of its convictions. Earlier I mentioned that the film doesn’t remind us much of John Hughes and that really was a compliment, because while Hughes’ films may have worked in the 80s, they seem very corny in today's more cynical times. Superbad understands that, even as kids today are more sexually aware and adult-like, so too are the adults and today more juvenile and childish than ever before.

Speaking of juvenile, Co-writer Rogen and Bill Hader play two crazy cops who take Fogell on a joy ride after they either do or do not bust him (I won't spoil it). Let’s just say that these two characters must’ve taken the job because they had nothing better to do after all of the Star Wars DVDs had been watched for the hundredth time. The two cops, and in fact every character over 21, could all be the result of the John Hughes generation, or possibly the protagonists of an earlier teen movie. Will Seth and Evan have the same fate?

While the middle portion of the film delivers some funny moments it does drag a bit, especially since the scenes between Evan and Seth contain such outrageous dialogue (which can’t be repeated here) and the chemistry between the two leads is so strong. We actually want more of them and less of the other characters. Maybe the two of them will decide to get back together after college and travel around doing a comedy routine. Even though for them it would probably just be a ploy to get some female groupies and… well, that’s for another film.