Since the early 80s, the high school male coming-of-age comedy has become almost as much a rite of passage as the actual event itself. Each new generation seems to have at least one variation on the theme of sexual obsession and discovery.
From Porkys and Fast Times at Ridgemont High to American Pie, the bar has been raised on raunchiness until you think it cant go any higher. It can, and it does, in Superbad.
Superbad enters into a genre so well worn, you cant imagine it has anything fresh to offer. And yet, this alarmingly profane comedy about two high school friends who must start that painful, but necessary, transition into adulthood is infused with such poignancy, honesty and charm that it puts everything that came before it to shame.
It should come as no surprise that the people responsible for Superbad come from the camp of Judd Apatow, a director who, with The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, has found a way to merge inappropriate, sophomoric humor with genuine heart.
Knocked Up star Seth Rogen, along with Evan Goldberg, began writing the movie when they were 13-year-old best friends. The result is a blend of what appears to be autobiographical incidents with pure wish-fulfillment.
If Superbad occasionally traipses off into wild teenage fantasy territory, it also captures an authenticity that, at the very least, every single male in the audience should relate to on some level.
At its core, Superbad is a story of close-knit friendship between two boys: Seth (Jonah Hill), loud, boorish and obsessed with girls hell never obtain; and the sweet-tempered but equally hormonally overcharged Evan (Arrested Developments Michael Cera).
Failing to register on any high school social barometer whatsoever, the boys cling to one another for survival. It is the tearing apart of their superbond that ripples beneath the surface, providing a tension that leads to the films climax.
Dont worry. Superbad is not a big, meaningful experience. There is plenty to laugh at, often to the point of abdominal pain, like Seth and Evans witty odes to male and female anatomical regions.
Pudgy, pushy Seth is the propagator of most of the coarse, crass talk, but its simply in self-defense. Seth is as obnoxious as they come, and just may be the most lovable cinema slob since John Belushis Bluto Blutarsky in Animal House.
Ceras Evan is more refined: a gentleman and a gentle soul. His knack for awkward half-sentences and stuttering make for some of the films funniest moments, including a scene involving a room full of coked-out guys who think hes a famous singer.
Cera and Hill share incredible natural chemistry, playing off one another with unparalleled perfection. Theyre a modern-day Laurel and Hardy or Martin and Lewis, and will hopefully be paired up again for another comic outing.
Theres a wild card in the mix a terrific newcomer named Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays Fogell, an uber-geek who is the third wheel in the boys friendship.
Superbad recalls those days when we were inseparable from our best friends, when the prospect of a first sexual experience was both terrifying and desperately yearned for, and when the blissful joys (and vomit-drenched lows) were the moments that defined our lives. The ability to capture those fleeting moments of simple teenage joy, untainted by adulthood and responsibility, is what makes this film so great.
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