Not satisfied with writing, directing and producing the comedy hit of the summer, Knocked Up, Judd Apatow treats us to another side-splitting production in the form of Superbad. He’s fast becoming the king of modern gag-fests, reliably putting together movies that combine gross out with a more tender, rom com attitude to give a well-rounded side-swipe at personal dilemmas. For Superbad, Apatow steps back to solely the producer as he did with Will Ferrell comedies Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) and Talladega Nights (2006), giving room for the new talent to make a name for themselves in an _American Pie_-style coming-of-age film about a trio of high school seniors out to score booze so they can score with the girls for the first time.
At the centre of this fresh breed of comic writing is Knocked Up star Seth Rogen who co-writes and takes on a supporting role for Superbad. He and fellow scripter Evan Goldberg give Apatow regular Jonah Hill (already seen in hits 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up) the chance to shine as Seth; one of two best buddies desperately seeking to finally get laid. Seth and his best friend, the baby-faced Evan (Michael Cera), spend their days together constantly discussing their sexual fantasies and who they would like to hook up with — all the typically uneducated crass talk boys indulge in everyday. But the closest they get to getting hammered at house parties and seeing girls naked is drinking beer and watching porn when their parents are out. Sound familiar to any guys out there?
One day, their nerdy pal Fogell (newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse) reveals he is getting a false ID, albeit one that renames him “McLovin” and says he is a 25-year-old from Hawaii. Potentially able to get alcohol, Seth is entrusted with the booze kitty for a girl’s party. However, when a robbery takes place in the shop Fogell attempts to buy the booze from, the false-ID holder winds up hanging out with two cops reliving their youth, shooting guns and jumping red lights thanks to their siren. Meanwhile, Seth and Evan believe their friend has been arrested and wind up at a houseparty to try to steal enough drink for the girls.
Superbad’s reflection of adolescent views on life are funny because they touch a strong nerve with the truth.
Superbad is crass, potty-mouthed and downright rude (the word “f*ck” is used nearly 200 times), which you might think sounds like the most unlikely praise for a movie. But writers Rogen and Goldberg capture the innocence of teenage life perfectly to accompany this reflection on the sexual strife faced by teenage guys. Evan and Seth’s discussions of bedroom activities and what a girl wants are hilarious — neither has any foundation for their views beyond a few sleazy videos. When they come face-to-face with the real deal of female classmates they exert all the deftness of a confused clown, something seen in boys and men alike. As namesakes of the writers, it would be safe to say Seth and Evan’s double act is likely to semi-autobiographical and works because of it: their friendship is so genuine you’ll believe Hill and Cera are playing themselves.
While those two get the classic scenario of best friends getting into bad situations and falling out over girls, Fogell’s antics as McLovin provides the more outlandish humour. When the cops are taken in by his fake ID, they invite him to join them on a patrol. Rounding up a local drunk and boozing on the job to prove they still know how to party is amusing if you forget the fact it is a totally irresponsible approach to police work that can undermine the plotting if taken too seriously. But then those taking Superbad seriously are probably not getting the most from this goofy offering. It’s reflection of adolescent views on life are funny because they touch a strong nerve with the truth, although a few might be embarrassed to say so. All involved in Superbad are going to be names to watch as the new standards of indie comedy have been laid this summer by Seth Rogen and, to a greater extent, Judd Apatow.