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Monday, August 20, 2007

Review: Superbad

Superbad is Supergood!

Sorry. Couldn't resist.
So I saw Superbad this weekend too. Dr Bitz’s review pretty much sums up what I was going to say, and better than I’d have said it. Plus, he covered all the nuts and bolts as far as who plays whom and who wrote it and all that. So go read his review, if you haven’t already. When you come back, I should be brief.
Superbad is a raunchy, bawdy, goofy-guys-want-sex-in-high-school romp. It is, on the surface, like many entrants in this genre before it, and is built on the foundation of those films’ conventions. In this case, the plot is simply three unpopular guys trying to become popular by acquiring and supplying the booze for an underage party. Said booze will make their odds of scoring with their respective crushes more likely (if for no other reason than when said girls are drunk, said guys will become that much more attractive and desirable).
But the best Teen Sex Comedies are built on more than crude jokes, gags involving bodily fluids and rapid fire dialogue littered with references to various parts of human genitalia, and Superbad is definitely one of the better ones. Beyond the simple plot, the film is really about two best friends, whose friendship is seemingly built on a foundation of mutual unpopularity, coming to terms with the realization that maybe they’re no longer as unpopular as they think they are, and discovering that their friendship is bigger than their shared outcast status and can even (contrary to what Seth may fear) withstand that realization.
Two other significant characters in the film are the cops, Officers Slater and Michaels. They like to shoot off their guns, troll for free beers (one of them advises McLovin to always take a call at a bar-you’re almost guaranteed a freebie that way) and revel in the power their position affords them. In many ways, they are the main characters, fifteen years older and with more authority (if the filmmakers had utilized the "Where Are They Now? End of Movie Subtitles" device (I’m glad they didn’t) I would not have been surprised to learn that McLovin eventually joined the police force). Throughout the movie, the cops drive the main characters (figuratively and in some cases, literally) towards their goal. Perhaps they are hoping to relive their own awkward glory days through Seth, Evan and Fogell. It is one of the unexpected and hilarious touches that makes Superbad as good as it is that in this movie, the cops are not bad guys, but allies of the protagonists.
My only criticisms are minor. Towards the end of the first act, Seth’s character really began to grate on me: he seemed constantly frustrated and always yelling. As Dr Bitz said, he was abrasive. But shortly after his first encounter with a moving vehicle, he started to become more endearing and likeable. And fellow fans of Arrested Development may be tempted to criticize Michael Cera’s portrayal of Evan as being too much like George Michael, with all his awkwardness and earnestness. But those same fans probably also enjoy seeing more of George Michael, and won’t criticize the performance. I’m not about to.

I liked this film. It was funny, as Dr. Bitz pointed out, unexpectedly so in many cases. I also liked that the characters were essentially good guys. Just as there was no token “bitch” amongst the female characters, for all their crude talk and ambitions, there was no Stifler character amongst the guys, no morally depraved sex maniac willing to do anyone and anything under any circumstances. There was just three guys, learning it may not take copious amounts of booze for girls to like them after all, and that their friendship is greater than the circumstances that created it.

Sorry Luke Cage. Maybe they'll put you in the sequel.

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