Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Emma Stone, Martha MacIsaac, Aviva
Directed by: Greg Mottola
After the rousing success of Knocked Up, Superbad, co-written by Knocked Up star Seth Rogen along with childhood friend Evan Goldberg and produced by Knocked Up director Judd Apatow, instantly became my next must-see movie of the summer. Since Knocked Up came out two months ago, it was a long wait. But thanks to ‘s generous offer of free passes to an advance screening that he couldn’t attend, I was able to cut my wait two weeks short (unfortunately, it’s taken me that long to get around to the review, blowing my shot at seeming like a real reviewer who gets his reviews out before the release date).
A lot of reviewers tend to give comedies a short shrift, myself included. It’s not that I don’t appreciate humour, it’s just that when I judge movies, I like to take several factors into account when figuring out what score to assign it. And many comedies feature merely serviceable direction, clichéd plotting, stereotypical characters, and average acting. But, with comedies, sometimes those familiar features, be it stock characters, simple plotting, or uncomplicated direction, aide the primary objective of the film by allowing the comedy take centre stage without tripping over complicated storylines or characters. So I need to recognise when those areas aren’t too egregious, and act in service of the movie, as long as the comedy is worth the shortcomings in other areas.
Superbad is just such a comedy, featuring familiar characters in familiar situations, basically giving us American Pie meets Dazed and Confused, with a Freaks and Geeks tone thrown in. But, what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in wall-to-wall laughter, fresh gags, and appealing characters. Another end-of-high school romp, Superbad can already be placed near the cream of the crop of the genre, employing actors who can believably portray teenagers (helpfully, some of them are teenagers) and allowing them to play characters who have legitimate teenage concerns. This isn’t some Freddie Prinze Jr.-type high school flick, this is awkward teens trying to have one big night of fun before confronting the next phase of their lives.
Michael Cera is fantastic as the straight man Evan, bringing the low-key brand of humour that made him the most underrated cast member of Arrested Development. Jonah Hill (also from Knocked Up) employs his rapid-fire style to get the big laughs as Seth, albeit as more of a joke-delivery system than a developed character. Newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse steals almost every scene he’s in as über-geek Fogell, the character that will most likely be overexposed in a month or so, but is genuinely funny when you actually watch the movie (perhaps less so when all your friends keep quoting him).
The movie doesn’t quite have the heart that made Knocked Up so appealing, but it makes up for it by delivering more laughs. It hits you hard and heavy with a raucous and raunchy sense of humour, without making its characters unappealing in the process. Even the few moments of the movie when the jokes slow down, I found myself laughing and smiling because I was riding the humour high from earlier in the movie. It was a tremendously good time, and probably the funniest movie of the year.