Superbad


Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 
Superbad

Superbad
Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 

In their senior year, best friends Seth (Jonah Hill, "Knocked Up") and Evan ("Arrested Development's" Michael Cera) are facing separation for their college years but are loathe to admit this bothers them.  Instead, relying on nerd tag-along Fogell (newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse, in one of the year's breakout performances) and his new fake ID, Seth and Evan hope to score underage booze and the chicks that come with it so they can appear "Superbad."

Laura:
Every decade has its classic teen sex comedy.  The 80's had two in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Porky's" while the 90's spawned a trilogy with "American Pie."  The 2000's belong to "Superbad," a twenty-four odyssey that is outrageously hilarious while delivering a serious message on teen drinking without preaching. Former "Ali G" writers Seth Rogen ("Knocked Up") and Evan Goldberg use a classic 24 hour approach following their odd couple together and apart with an amusing offshoot reserved for 'McLovin,' Fogell's twenty-five year-old persona.

Evan's the quiet, sensitive one who respects the girl he has eyes for.  Evan is also keeping mum about rooming with Fogell at a college Seth couldn't get into.  Seth is a motormouth obsessed with sex and no patience for obstacles or idiocy. After observing these two together, especially given Seth's aggressive behavior, it comes as a bit of a shock to realize they are outsiders, bullied by popular jocks and pretty boys.  Seth hardly deigns to endure Fogell's presence until he sees a path to the panties of Jules (Emma Stone, TV's "Drive"), an attractive girl who actually speaks to him who is having a party that evening. But once sees Fogell's fake I.D., a Hawaiian driver's license for a twenty-five year-old with the moniker 'McLovin,' he flips out.  Still, it's their best shot.

Things go wildly unexpectedly when Fogell hits the packie and the boys are split up.  Fogell becomes McLovin for Officers Slater (Bill Hader, "Knocked Up") and Michaels (Seth Rogen, "Knocked Up"), two idiotic and unconventional rookies intent on having a good time, while Seth and Evan continue the quest for booze with diverging levels of determination.  Many dangerous adventures later, the duo hook up with Jules and Becca (Martha MacIsaac, "Ice Princess") with unexpected results.

Director Greg Mottola, doing television work since 1996's "The Daytrippers," is blessed with a comic trio in Hill, Cera and Mintz-Plasse whose extreme differences of character produce creative sparks.  Hill uses nervous energy to mask confidence issues, constantly bellowing, moving forward like a shark, making verbal mincemeat of those lower in the feeding chain.  And yet for all his obnoxious behavior, you cannot help but route for the guy, a difficult feat to pull off.  Cera is the likeable one, the Ollie to Hill's Hardy, who relies on Hill's bluster to get him to places he ordinarily could not go.  One of those places is a raucous bash peopled by an older crowd where Cera has a comic highlight singing "These Eyes" after being mistaken for a wedding singer.  (Unfortunately Hill's parallel experience is capped by a grossout gag that's just too left of field - it just feels rank.)  The duo have a brilliantly written drunken 'one-night-stand/honeymoon' followed by an awkward morning after that says everything about their relationship.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse is a standout as Fogell, making the character so blissfully unaware of his own uber-nerdiness that he is hilarious and endearing at the same time.  When McLovin ends up (almost) bedding a girl Fogell could barely stammer at, the encounter feels earned.  As the cops, Hader and Rogen have their moments, but on the whole are too over the top.  As written, these guys indulge in behavior so excessively outside of the realm of any police department that the film loses the reality it is otherwise fairly grounded in.  The mostly spot-on writers rebound, though, by giving Seth and Evan what each other wanted and having each of their eyes opened in the process.  Stone and MacIsaac are refreshingly real with pretty but imperfect features, rather than the unattainable starlet types Hollywood usually casts.

"Superbad" is one of those rarities - a teen sex comedy that finds funny in the low brow while being very smart about it.  This one's a keeper for the ages.

B+

Robin:
Preparing to graduate high school, best friends forever Evan (Michael Cera) and Seth (Jonah Hill) must face the prospect of continuing their higher education at different colleges. On the eve before they part company, they will undergo a rite of passage that will change their lives forever in "Superbad."

Judd Apatow, the director of comedy hits "The 40-Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," sheds his helmer's hat and dons the producer's cap in this rowdy, sometimes raunchy, coming-of-age tale. He turns the helm of "Superbad" over to sophomore director Greg Mottola ("The Daytrippers") to tell Evan and Seth's adventure on what will likely be their last night together as inseparable best friends.

Evan is a shy young man who lives in terror of his future, alone and without his friend. Seth is a foul-mouthed teen obsessed with sex. When these outcasts are unexpectedly invited to a big party (where Evan agrees to purchase the booze for the soiree for pretty Becca (Martha MacIsaac)), they begin a night of sober awakening and panic as they strive to fulfill the promise.

Of course, neither is old enough to buy liquor so they enlist the help of another, even geekier, pal, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Fogell announces that he is getting a fake driver's license that will allow him to get all the alcohol they need. The best-laid plans often go awry, though, and the trio is in for a night to remember.

When Fogell sets off to buy the beverages that will get them into the cool party he is not prepared what will happen when a robber sticks up the liquor store and knocks him cold. The police, in the persons of Officers Michaels (Seth Rogen) and Slater (Bill Hader), arrive at the crime scene and question McLovin (that's the name on the fake ID). They love the name so much they take the youngster under their wing, driving around in their squad car and taking in some impromptu target practice. Meanwhile, Evan and Seth, not expecting Fogell to come through, experience their own trials and tribulations trying to get their hands on the forbidden booze.

Think "Porky's" melded with "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," with "Superbad" taking the foul language and obsession with sex of the former and the coming-of-age scenarios of the latter. The resulting work has the rudeness and charm that has not been a part of teen movies for a long time. The unlikely duo of Evan and Seth are two sides of the same coin and the young actors play their roles well. But, the real surprise is the debut performance of Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fogell/McLovin. His part in "Superbad" frequently steals the show as he cruises the streets with his new cop buddies.

"Superbad" seems too old for its targeted teen demographic. Not mature, mind you, but aimed at the older tweenies who will get a kick out of characters that populate the comedy.  Written and executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldbeerg, it holds much akin to the buddy/roommate part of "Knocked Up." And, that is not a bad thing. I give "Superbad" a B.
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