I’ll admit, I had a motive when I assigned myself to Superbad. I figured the only other lady-penned review any of us had a chance of reading was from Dana Stevens at Slate. (Also, I loved Arrested Development, and was eager to see what Michael Cera’s been up to.)
Anyway, the point is, like most Judd Apatow-produced flicks, Superbad is a “guy’s movie,” one just begging me to zero-in on the things guys don’t write about guy movies … like the terribly misogynist comments John McLane spewed about Maggie Q’s character post-kill in Live Free or Die Hard. Eck.
So now that you’re fully prepared for me to bust the balls off this movie: Surprise, I loved it. Way more than Knocked Up, whose juxtaposition of mushy-moral sequences with hard-R laughs made it plodding and uneven. During Superbad, I could scarcely breathe for laughter.
But I must digress for a moment, because Jonah Hill’s dialogue was really grating.
An irritating, commonly perceived fact of our vernacular is that words like pussy, bitch, and fag equal weakling. Basically, anyone who’s a catcher, so to speak, is not only inferior, but leads a despised existence — it’s a combination of sexism and homophobia infused in our culture. The words have been, to a certain extent, reclaimed, but it would be foolish to pretend that they are at all times devoid of hurtfulness. Motivation is really what it comes down to.
There’s something simultaneously disconcerting and hopeful about the comedies produced by the Apatow crew: They seem to appeal as much to hipster ex-Freaks and Geeks-watchers as to fratboys. So undoubtedly, reader, you’re going to be seated next to some bro who isn’t comprehending what the writers (subtle to the point of dubiousness) are doing. Everytime I started to get really offended by Hill’s character, for example, he got hit by a car. Everyone laughed. It was confusing.
Ultimately, Hill’s lines make sense because he’s playing a high-school boy (named Seth — just like the screenwriter!) who fears women. In Superbad, he and best friend Evan (Like the other screenwriter! Played by Cera.) have reached a fork in the road of their young lives: At summer’s end, Evan is off to Dartmouth, while Seth stays behind at a state university. Neither has ever been popular, so when they are extended the once-in-a-lifetime chance to party with their respective crushes, they awkwardly jump at the opportunity. Their presence at said party is made even more desirable by the fact that their friend Fogell has acquired a fake I.D. (If the previews haven’t spoiled this part for you already, then I’m not going to, either).
Like some of the best comedies, Superbad is about a simple plan gone awry (Planes, Trains and Automobiles comes to mind). Here, a gang of minors’ plan to purchase alcohol spins out of control. A pair of hilarious cops, played by Seth Rogen and the great Bill Hader enter the whirlwind, as does The State’s Joe Lo Truglio, and Numb3rs’ David Krumholtz (or, as he will always be known to me, Bernard, The Santa Clause’s head elf.)
Superbad, a movie best relished sans plot-spoilers, gets down to a killer sampler of funk music, and to the rhythm of William Kerr’s brilliant editing. It lies in that sweet, accessible blur between Hot Fuzz and Dumb and Dumber — a nice place to hang around for two hours, assuming the guy next to you isn’t wearing plaid shorts, a popped collar, and chiming in, “Pussy!” •
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