2007. Greg Mottola
Anybody that knows me has heard and heard how I’ve been looking forward to this movie. Even though the trailer didn’t really hit me 100%, I felt like it was a movie that could become an instant classic for me. Something that I wish I had written or directed. My only apprehensions came from the fact that I was left disappointed by both The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Well, I’m happy to report that Superbad is the movie I was looking for and is far and away, the best of its genre since American Pie.
The main measure of success is whether or not the film is funny, and anchored by the leading performances of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, it certainly delivers. The fact that they actually look like high school students is an automatic plus from the get-go and the rapport they have together is the basis of 80% of the humor. That’s mainly due to the fact that the film is a thinly disguised semi-autobiographical story of co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, even down to the point of keeping thier actual names. They and the other filmmakers know that the girls in the movie are mainly just an objective and a plot point for the two guys and the real heart of the story comes from their love of each other. There’s a brilliant scene where the two wake up next to each other after a drunken slumber party and Seth tries to leave in a huff while Evan tells him it’s okay if he wants to stick around. The setup is an obvious homophobic one, but it’s played in a such a subtle and successful way by the actors that it puts everything in the I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry trailer to shame. This is a story about loving your best friend and finding a way to grow up and be apart.
There’s a subplot given almost equal screen time involving their nerdy friend and his exploits with two young-at-heart cops that could have easily been a drag, but somehow isn’t. Every time it cut back to that story I kept waiting to feel impatient or frustrated. It’s a testament to the writing and performances that I was just as interested in the side characters as the main. It’s an especially interesting dynamic to see Rogen play one of those roles when he’s gone on record as saying that he wrote this script as a teen hoping to star in it himself, but when it took a little longer than expected to get off the ground, he had become too old to do so. He’s a natural fit for the role of the cop who would rather be at the parties chugging beer than busting them up.
The movie isn’t perfect, and it’s not as consistently funny as Borat or Wedding Crashers were, but it strikes a remarkable amount of right notes versus very few wrong ones. Some expositional dialogue regarding the main conflict of the two getting into different schools is brought up in clunky places and ways, but those are minor gripes. The film did make me wish I had written it or directed it and it did make me wish I was back in high school the same way that watching Can’t Hardly Wait always does. Movies like this have a special way of capturing the feeling that anything can happen when you’re eighteen and on the verge of drastic life changes and there’s no doubt that a new generation of kids will identify with and claim this particular film as their own forever.