As they prepare to go their separate ways for college, Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera) are set on losing their virginity. If they can just buy booze for the popular kids party, theyll be set.
If it wasn’t oxymoronic, the most apt way to describe Superbad might be ‘brilliantly puerile’. The majority of this post-high school comedy’s jokes may originate in the bathing-suit area, but most are also filtered through the brain and, crucially, the heart. Superbad is teen sex comedy in the vein of Porky’s and American Pie - i.e. nobody really gets much sex to speak of, but they pursue it giddily, ike toddlers after butterflies.
The latest from the Judd Apatow stable, which produced The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, Superbad comes with excellent credentials. Apatow produces, with Knocked Up alumni and new big-funnyman-on-campus Seth Rogen on scripting duties.
Rogen shares his mentor’s belief that being a bit disgusting without offering any kind of character work soon becomes something to put you off your popcorn. Superbad, a heightened autobiographical take on the teen lives of Rogen and his co-writer Evan Goldberg, has no such shortcomings.
What our heroes Michael Cera and Jonah Hill might lack in pin-up looks - Hill looks like a partially shaved member of the Hair Bear Bunch and Cera like a 12 year-old girl having a sexual-identity crisis - they more than compensate for in charm.
Anyone who has seen the short-lived sitcom Arrested Development will know Cera is a peerless wielder of the awkward pause.
He doesn’t need punchlines, so much as a camera prepared to linger long enough to capture the desperate misunderstanding rippling across his face. His loveable wimp Evan remains excruciatingly unaware that the girl he covets coveteth him equally. Hill is his bolshy equal opposite. With a mouth that blunders into situations minutes before the rest of him has had time to engage, his plan to woo women is to ply them with booze and thus sufficiently lower their standards. They’re perfectly complimentary opposites, as delightful as they are disgusting.
The sweetest love in the movie, though, is not that for the ladies, but the affection between bestest buds. As the pair prepare to go to different colleges after a lifetime spent stapled to each other’s sides, the movie warmly and accurately depicts the bonds of friendship between teenage boys, who show affection through penis-based insults and copious alcohol.
Not that the movie is by any means sappy, of course. While Seth and Evan provide plenty of comedy of their own, many will be mainly seduced by their awkward third-wheel Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), better known - largely to himself - as McLovin. A geek for the ages, he winds up stuck riding with the two least lawful lawmen ever after a disastrous fake ID debut too bizarre to detail here. Fogell’s total earnestness and tremulous confidence create most of the movie’s best moments and should see chests ironically emblazoned with “I’m McLovin” for months after release.
Think of this best as a younger sibling to Knocked Up. The jokes are cruder, although cleverly so, but the characters are just as well-drawn and the situations as oddly relatable. Giant robots and superheroes be damned - there’s no question that Rogen rules this summer.
Equally hilarious and heartfelt, this is the best teen movie since American Pie and should make stars of the fantastic Cera and Hill.