Friday, August 17, 2007

Review: Superbad

Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen
Director: Greg Mottola

Producer: Judd Apatow, Evan Goldberg, Shauna Robertson, Seth Rogen
Release Date: August 17, 2007
Running time: 114 min

MPAA Rating: R
Distributors: Columbia Pictures



“The guys either going think 'here's another guy with a fake ID', or ‘here's McLovin, 25 year old Hawaiian organ donor.’”


The Skinny:
Two social retards whose high school status has been riddled with calamity, attempt to change their longstanding losing streak all in one night.


The Review:
I was admittedly a dork in high school. I was by no means unpopular, but socially, at least along the lines of women, I was about as awkward and inept as they come (no pun intended). That is why teen comedies, when done right, kind of strike a cord with me; Fast Times, American Pie, Dazed and Confused, and my all-time favorite, Porky’s. I can identify with the characters’ awkwardness and all too often remember similarly embarrassing moments from my own experiences. They are all funny(ish) now and years later I appreciate them for the impact they had in molding any social ability I have now, but at the time, oy… But who hasn’t been there. I mean, that’s what high school was all about.

We’ve heard the story a thousand times; a couple of misfits attempt to overcome their ineptness by forcing their way into the popular clique via ‘the last party of the year’ to gain that ever eluding social acceptance. Superbad is really no different. Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (the infinitely brilliant Michael Cera) have been friends forever. They do everything together; ride to school, decide which porn site they are going to subscribe to, and why. They had always planned on going to the same college, but on the eve of their graduating high school, they are wrestling with the realization that things may not end up as they had planned. Evan has been accepted to Dartmouth and Seth, who wasn’t, will probably end up in state college. During this process of revelation, they are also reflecting on how pathetic their high school social experience has been. They each have an object of affection, but for distinctly and morally separate reasons; they have yet to act on them. In Home Economics class, Seth is partnered with his ‘White Whale’, Julie; during which time he is invited to her house party later that night. As if by fate, their friend Fogell (newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse) bursts into their class to tell them he is picking up his fake ID during lunch. He is invited to the party also, provided he can supply the alcohol by way of his new fake. Seth tells Julie that he has the fake ID and that he can get all the alcohol for the party. He gets money, creates a beverage list and things are set for the night they boys have been waiting for. They finally catch up with Fogell, who shows them his new ID. Great, only it shows him as hailing from Hawaii. And being 25. And graced with the name ‘McLovin’. Seth and Evan verbally abuse Fogell for what they see as a huge misstep. He doesn’t look anywhere near 25 or Hawaiian. Then of course there’s the issue of the name. They agree to try it, after a failed attempt by Seth to steal the alcohol. At the end of the sale, McLovin is assaulted during a robbery, Seth is hit by a car in the parking lot and fearing the worst, they end up splitting up for the better part of the rest of the movie. During the rest of their evening, Seth and Evan end up at another party on route to their women and McLovin spends the evening with the two cops who responded to the robbery, seemingly unaware that he is underage
.

The movie is raunchy. The dialogue is spot on and filthy as all get out. Not purely as a shock device, but that’s just the way they talk. Hell, that’s the way me and my friends talk. There is a realism in their speaking that just hits it right. Like all of those movies this one aspires to be, Superbad just ‘gets it’. You relate to Seth and Evan because you were either just like them in high school, or not that far removed from people just like them. It is also hysterical in that it is relatable material. Not that I’ve ever had a “Merlot spot” on my pants before, but the situations they get into, while outlandish, are not that far from the scope of possibility (aside from the cops). Hands down, the best part of the movie is McLovin. This guy, in his first movie, gets it perfect. His whininess, his geeky demeanor, his wannabe gangster attitude, everything. He wants to be everything his new moniker is supposed to embody, and comes damn close. He reminds me of DJ Qualls in Road Trip, in that he IS that geeky kid we all knew and hits every note just so. Only McLovin is a thousand times better and in my opinion, is an instant classic teen movie character.

The two cops McLovin (I just love typing the name) ends up with for the night, Officer Slater (Bill Hader) and Officer Michaels (Seth Rogen) are the only down point of the movie. Both are capable of much more, but here end up being more of a distraction than anything. Hader can be much funnier, even as recently as this month in Hot Rod. Hell, he’s been funnier than this at his worst on SNL. And somehow Rogen ends up being the best and worst part of the movie. As co-writer, his script is top shelf materiel. The dialogue is sharp, raunchy, and hilarious, but his character is dopey and irrelevant. I would have much rather he not wasted his talent on this role. All that being said, this movie actually lives up to what it has been heralded to be; an instant ‘R’ rated teen movie classic.

The Rub:
This movie lives up to the hype. The dialogue is raunchy and filthy and hilarious. But more than just being boorish, it is real. This is really how high school kids (read: my group of friends) talk. It isn’t perfect and it wasn’t two hours of non-stop laughter, but when it works, it is as good as any other movie of its kind. Even when it doesn’t, it’s still better than most of the imitations made to cash in on the good ones. It was a little long, but nothing that will take you away from the overall experience. Now we need only to brace ourselves for the wave of second-rate clones that is no doubt assembling as we speak, ready to insult us with their inferiority.

And there's the rub.


*** out of ****

2 comments:

Vandees said...

Truer words have never been spoken. This is a must see, and entertaining as hell.

Tony DeFrancisco said...

Fantastic review. This was a perfect comedy film.