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SUPERBAD (director: Greg Mottola; screenwriter: Seth Rogan/Evan Goldberg; cinematographer: Russ T. Alsobrook; editor: William Kerr; music: Lyle Workman; cast: Jonah Hill (Seth), Michael Cera (Evan), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fogell), Bill Hader (Officer Slater), Seth Rogen (Officer Michaels), Emma Stone (Jules), Martha MacIsaac (Becca), Kevin Corrigan (Mark); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Judd Apatow/Shauna Robertson; Columbia Pictures; 2007)
“A vulnerable cut above most such sleaze.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

If your thing is gross-out teenage nerd comedies, this one directed by Greg Mottola (“The Daytrippers”), a Judd Apatow grad from his short-lived TV series Undeclared, is probably a vulnerable cut above most such sleaze–outside of all the crude talk it offers a sweet coming-of-age tale, that ultimately points to the heartbreak it causes when a longtime dependent friendship (fuzzily somewhat homoerotic!) between two upcoming high school grads will be ending because they will be in the fall attending different colleges. Screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who wrote the script as teens, keep almost all the jokes about the penis smutty, but the hapless misfit guys are made geeky lovable, never act cruel and their anxiety about the future seems plausibly real. For the demographic audience the film targets, I can imagine such raucous frat-boy humor hits just the right spot. I, not of that demographic, unfortunately, grew tired of all the penis jokes–which hardly provoked any laugh-out-loud moments, and the overlong one-joke movie overstayed its welcome.

The horny teen protagonists in search of their first real romantic experience before moving onto college are the foul-mouthed gabby overweight schlub Seth (Jonah Hill), the intense skinny geek Evan (Michael Cera), both characters are named after the screenwriters; and, the odd third wheel, the bespectacled over-the-top nerd’s nerd named Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, 18-year-old newcomer lifted from MySpace). Seth is torn because his childhood best friend, Evan, gets into Dartmouth and so does Fogell, while poor grades have Seth attending a state college. But the summer offers one last adventure together as some hottie high school classmates, Jules (Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIsaac), the dream gals of Seth and Evan’s respective desires, invite Seth and Evan to a graduation party in their home and ask them to bring the booze. When Fogell mentions that he’s got a fake Hawaiian ID that shows him as a 25-year-old named McLovin, he’s invited and asked to purchase the liquor. Problems arise as Fogell while purchasing the booze gets punched out during a liquor store robbery and the arriving playful police officers (Bill Hader & Seth Rogen) get Fogell to ride in their police car, as they buddy up to the kid, wave their guns in a macho fashion and show off their immaturity by acting irresponsibly as they take the kid on their police calls. At the party, the three friends reunite with the booze in tow. Their simple plan is to get the girls so drunk that they will have sex with them.

The joyride teen party film assumes these horny teens are the norm, that being clueless can sometimes be cool, and it embraces such stupid teen behavior as something that’s not only funny but part of the male rite to manhood. I just couldn’t fully buy into that fatuous take on teens; found the slapstick jokes silly but not funny (including the puke and menstrual ones); that the girls were just used as ciphers, representing temptation for the fellas; and that it ends with a gooey finish that fails to make the comedy as relevant as it seems to think it is.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”