‘Superbad’ gives laughs with heart
By Allison Rudderman, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2007
There's a scene in the beginning of "Superbad" where, in a panicky tirade, Jonah Hill's foul-mouthed uber-nerd, Seth, defends the low-fi production values of Internet porn.
"I'm sorry that the Coen Brothers didn't direct the porn I watch," he whines sarcastically.
"Superbad" is overstocked with cultural references But this nod to the Coen brothers recognizes that the "Superbad" team is just as funny as the legendary guys who put out comedic gold like "Raising Arizona" and "The Big Lebowski." It is justly earned self-congratulation.
The team -- including producer Judd Apatow, screenwriter and actor Seth Rogen, among other recurring players -- are the current it-kings of R-rated comedy, getting rave reviews from even the stodgiest of critics and outclassing the hit-or-miss 'frat pack' of Ben Stiller and the Wilson brothers, from whose movies, incidentally, Apatow's success spawned.
Apatow's films are cram-it-all-in packages of jokes above all else, but what separates them from other above average laughfests is that they are layered over with superior romantic comedy -- these films have heart.
Jonah Hill and Michael Cera star as graduating high school seniors Seth and Evan (after Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg) who find themselves with an unlikely invitation to a hot girl's party and agree to supply booze. Unfortunately, the only source they have is the laughable fake ID belonging to their friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who's just as geeky as they are. Cue "McLovin," the joke everybody knows by now. By the way, it isn't any less funny than it was the first ten times I saw the trailer.
After trying out his fake, Fogell gets caught up with two inept cops, played by Rogen and Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader. The trio experience a series of conventional pratfalls that were executed better in "Supertroopers" and "Hot Fuzz," and ultimately slow down the plot. But, all things considered, Superbad is way too funny to bitch about a little bit of formula. It would be like saying "Grease" is a bad movie because all the actors are old.
"Superbad" spits out laughs hard and fast, though some might say its premise rings a little familiar. Nice but uncool guys try really hard to get laid. Sounds like a younger version of "Knocked Up," where sweet Seth Rogen bumbles his way into a relationship with a way-hotter woman. Or, come to think of it, a much younger retread of Apatow's first film as a director, "40-Year-Old Virgin," in which an unfortunately deprived nice-guy finally scores for the first time. Even Apatow's hilarious "Freaks and Geeks" television show was about high school outcasts fumbling with romance. And yet each of these works is patently separate, encapsulating the genuine heartache and angst of rejection during their respective phases of life. Only the most crass jerk wouldn't be touched by the time the credits roll, because those onscreen losers are just too lovable not to root for.
And as if all this was not enough to convince you, Evan and Fogell are headed to none other than Dartmouth College in the fall, a subplot that garners frequent mention. Score one for the Class of 2011, the honorary classmates of Evan and Fogell. Not so fast though, you're still the worst class ever.