September 25, 2007


Are you Superbad? After the success of the magnificent Knocked Up, it is clear that with Superbad producer Judd Apatow and writer/star Seth Rogen are indeed the newest crowned kings of comedy in Hollywood.  For Superbad is another R-rated film that carefully balances gross-out, laugh-out-loud comedy and emotional insights into the characters’ and their relationships. 

Superbad is the tale of Seth and Evan (the first names of the two writers, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg), played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera.  Seth is overweight and aggressive, Evan thin, uncomfortable and oddly sweet.  The two are polar opposites, but are inseparable, relying heavily on each other.  And what with it being the so close to the end of High School, and the fact that next year they will be going to different colleges, means only one thing – they need to get laid at one of the end of year parties. 

Written by Rogen and Goldberg when they were fourteen and thus still at school, it is a blueprint of teen angst, burgeoning and overt sexuality and, for once, a very truthful look at adolescent male friendship.  This is where the film excels most.  Rogen and Apatow share the same belief that comedy must be extremely funny, but kept well within reality, and drawn from real situations involving human characters.  Seth and Evan reminded me very much of Miles and Jack in Alexander Payne’s masterpiece Sideways.  Two main characters who have very different personalities and appear a very odd couple, but whose relationship by the end has been clearly defined. 

Seth and Evan hear of a party that is being thrown by Jules, the hot girl that Seth unsurprisingly wants to get with.  And the other hottie that Evan is obsessed with, Becca, will also be attending.  This is their last chance to get laid before they go their separate ways.  Thus, hilarity ensues… And in a marvellous, and most importantly, unpredictable fashion.  Jules (perhaps unwisely) entrusts Seth to buy the alcohol for her party, which he can get Seth and Evan’s third wheel, friend and über-geek Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to do, since he has just got himself a fake ID, one that presents him as a 25 year-old Hawaiian organ donor by the already legendary name McLovin.  Things don’t go to plan, and Seth and Evan find themselves trying to get a lot of booze, whilst Fogell i.e. McLovin gets involved with the escapades of the two brilliantly incompetent cops (SNL veteran Bill Hader and Rogen himself). 

All the characters are perfectly drawn, and all the performances excellent.  Hill injects just the right level of crudeness into Seth, but keeps him likeable and tremendously funny (example – “You know when girls say ‘God, I was so shitfaced last night I should never have fucked that guy’ – well we could be that mistake!”).  And anyone who has seen the brilliant, uproarious and cancelled US TV show Arrested Development will already know just how much of an expert Michael Cera is at the uncomfortable pause, helped by Greg Mottola’s direction.  He keeps things moving fast, but at the same time knows when to linger, particularly when Evan is engaging in an excruciating conversation with anyone.  Always uncomfortable, Evan is socially inadequate at best, and the awkward pauses and unfinished sentences are very accurate and very funny.  Mintz-Plasse is also wonderful as Fogell, blissfully unaware of his own hopelessness but so earnest he’s impossible not to love.  Rogen and Hader are practised comedy geniuses, and have the time of their lives. 

But it all comes down to our two heroes.  They’re after the girls, but ultimately the relationship at the heart of the story is that between the two of them.  And it’s completely honest, never remotely pretentious and almost heartbreaking. Superbad?  It’s Superb.  The jokes are puerile but always smart, and it keeps you engaged.  Forget massive robots and superheroes, this summer was all about Seth Rogen. 


4.5/5 Clever penis-based jokes 


One Response to “Superbad”

  1. Ben Travis said

    I love this film

    the montage was…

    …impressively disturbing

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