Review: ‘Superbad’

The guys that brought you The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up have done it again, crafting a humanizing comedy built around the coming-of-age absurdity of actually getting whatever it is you think you want.

Best friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) have survived childhood to become high school seniors. Unfortunately, almost graduating and getting ready to move on to college comes with plenty of regrets and large serving of separation anxiety. Determined to blow past their awkward lack of communication, they manage to get themselves invited to a blowout party by promising to deliver plenty of alcohol using the fake ID of their friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Will the boys become men by bedding their dream dates (Martha MacIsaac and Emma Stone), or will they get busted by the local cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader) on their last great adventure together?

At first glance, the trailer for this production makes it look set in the 1980’s, but that’s simply a trick of the filmmakers to add a timeless quality to a coming-of-age (and screwing it up) story. Additional realism is provided by the characters being about the same age as the players, plus none of these kids are the genetically prefect specimens that populate most of your basic teen television dramadies. The creates the not-so magic formula of real teens in real situations trying to do what they think is expected of them and getting lucky about half the time. Even when events get completely out of hand, you never know exactly what’s going to happen next and how our heroes will deal with it.

The honesty and realism of the script is only half of the success of this film while excellent casting makes up the rest. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera have already made names for themselves in these kinds of movies, from Knocked Up (with Hill) and the upcoming Juno (with Cera). There’s an honesty about these guys that speaks volumes even when they’re just standing around in the background. Then you have two “rogue” police officers played by Seth Rogen and Bill Hader as would-be mentors or possible buzz-killers, and the antics of these two played off of the younger cast brings out the yesteryear in everyone.

Too much of the hilarity in this movie comes from watching how the characters deal with each new situation as they come (whether they create it or not), so I won’t spoil any of it here. But with three hit films under their belt to prove that these movies aren’t flukes, we can only smile at what these guys will come up with next. The intelligent R-rated comedy for adults is back, and these guys seem to have an exclusive lock on how to make these movies in both an entertaining and commercially successful way.

(a three and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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