I saw Superbad again last night, which makes it the first film in ages I’ve seen twice in the theater and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. I really do think that Michael Cera gives an amazing performance and I know it reeks of hyperbole, but this is the kind of acting that should get nominated for Academy Awards, not the bullshit biopic/life in trauma grandstanding that makes it to the big show time and time again. Cera does incredibly subtle and interesting work, making every awkward glance away or conversational stumble seem 100% honest. I’m nearly positive that he’ll never be this good again and everything he does now will just feature shades of this complete performance.
I also think that the reason this film is so successful to me, where Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin were not, has to do with the much-publicized fact that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote the movie when they were teenagers themselves. The result is that the movie really feels like it was never made with the thought that people might actually see it, while Apatow’s films carry the stink of calculation through and through. “This scene is for the boys to enjoy and so now we gotta throw the girls a bone”, etc. and so on. Independent filmmakers are often encouraged to make their films purely to satisfy themselves as artists and then hope that others can find satisfaction from it as well, and while it may be a stretch to apply that Cassavetian philosophy to an R-rated teen comedy, it certainly applies more so than with the other films Apatow has produced.