directed by Greg Mottola
(Columbia, 2007)

A funny thing happened on my way to see producer Judd Apatow's latest utterly hilarious R-rated comedy. First, the woman at the ticket counter asked to see I.D. before I purchased my ticket, which was fine. It is, of course, standard procedure for theaters to ensure every member of an R-rated movie audience is at least 17. But then, as I made my way to the screen, I -- like everyone around me -- was forced to again show I.D. and ticket stub to theater staff waiting outside the doors! Even with the heightened security flashing before my eyes, I admit that I failed to mentally prepare for the 114 minutes of absurdities, vulgarities and relentless barrage of sneering genitalia jokes that were about to come my way. Superbad is in no way suitable for people under 17.

For those expecting yet another masterful 40-Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Up, both of which were written by Apatow, they will be disappointed. Still in its place, though, is an equally impressive film that disregards the heart, romance and drama of Apatow's previous efforts and instead incessantly feasts on what is on the minds of practically every high school student: sex and the human anatomy.

Superbad stars the team of up-and-comers Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as two seniors who are looking to get lucky during one of their last days of school. Luckily for the boys, and their sidekick Fogell, they have been invited to a wild party that evening, but under one condition: They must supply the alcohol. Little do they know that being underage would be the least of their concerns.

Obviously, the plot is pretty straightforward. It's been done before -- most recently in 1999's American Pie. But the comparisons end there. This one is suffocatingly funny and had me -- and the entire theater -- laughing through the entire thing.

Now, normally I don't fall for crude jokes and potty humor. I tend to immediately brush away that lowbrow, sophomoric type of comedy. But underneath its persistent vulgarities, Superbad had a sincerity to it, especially in Cera's character Evan, who respects women so much he is scared of them. And then there is the film's B-story, which centers on Hill's character Seth, who realizes his co-dependent best friend, Evan, won't be by his side any more when differing colleges will separate the pair. Seth loves Evan, and even admits it at one point. The scene stands as one of the film's scarce cute moments, really. The rest is sex humor.

What bugged me about the film, though, was the unrealistic stuff, which was omitted from Apatow's previous work. (Although Superbad was written by actor Seth Rogen, not Apatow). I'm not ruining anything here by revealing that one of the characters gets run over by not one, but two cars in the course of a single day without injury. And police officers Slater and Michaels, though hilarious, never once act like real cops. Then again, I'm sure that was the point. Because when else will you see cops disregard an emergency, light their cruiser on fire, have no clue how to conduct an investigation and run away from -- who else -- the cops when doing something illegal?

Even so, summer 2007 will be forever remembered as the time when Apatow and Rogen successfully claimed the keys to the kingdom of R-rated comedy. In June, it was Knocked Up. Two months later, it's Superbad. Though Knocked Up is decades ahead in its maturity and drama levels, Superbad is guaranteed to make you consistently laugh until it hurts.

review by
Eric Hughes

10 November 2007

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