I don’t think I’ve ever identified this much with a high school movie. Which is not to say that this is the best I’ve ever seen. To name only one title, “Say Anything” is probably the crowning achievement in the genre but, as much as I’d like to think I was like Lloyd Dobbler when I was 17, um, no. I was way more like the guys in “Superbad”: awkward, uncool and horny!
This film, which Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg allegedly started to write when they were still teenagers themselves (I actually wrote a script about my experience of high school while I was going through it too, now that I think of it), is an ode to male camaraderie, to the kind of friendship that is truly life-saving in that context. You might not fit in with the popular assholes, you might be unable to get things going with the ladies and you might feel that your whole life will be a series of such failures and inadequacies, but when you got a buddy or two to shoot the shit, vent and have way too much fun with, things ain’t so bad.
If I say that the film is about a relationship between guys who are “one cock in the mouth shy of being gay”, you might recall that I wrote the same thing about Knocked Up and that, not insignificantly, I first heard this juicy phrase I keep using when I interviewed Kevin Smith. It makes sense because “Superbad” was produced by Knocked Up writer-director Judd Apatow, and both movies owe more than a passing debt to the Smith oeuvre. Not just for those “hetero lifemates” relationships, but also for the non-stop profanity and pop culture references found in the dialogue!
The simple but perfect premise has three high school misfits going through a school day bullshitting about their dreams of going to parties and getting laid, then they get a chance to do just that, but first they have to score a whole lot of booze so they can get the girls they’re after drunk and better their chances of getting into their panties. A lot of outrageous stuff happens to them in the process, involving among other things their path repeatedly crossing that of two dumbass cops (Rogen and Bill Hader). But the heart of the movie is in the brilliant back and forth between BFFs Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), with sensational, scene-stealing support from third wheel McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). I wrote above about them all being misfits, but it’s less clean-cut than that. Borrowing from MaryAnn Johanson, I’l describe the difference between them as such:
Did I mention that “Superbad” is the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time? Some might accuse the film of being juvenile and idiotic, but a) of course it’s juvenile, it’s about teenagers! and b) it’s smart about being stupid, if that makes sense. There are countless gags about dick, pussy and the meeting of the two, but also more highbrow comic references to things like the Coen brothers or Orson Welles. And you gotta love the whole ’70s thing, from the old school studio logos and opening titles to the music and clothes, which make the flick more “Boogie Nights” than “American Pie”. In any case, it’s endlessly hilarious, which is its own reward. Don’t you dare miss this vag-tastic voyage!