August 18, 2007

Superbad

I came back from Superbad with the same feeling one gets after a really great party: flush with adrenaline from the festivities, and a little bummed now that it's over. Superbad is easily the funniest thing I've seen this year. It might actually be the funniest thing I've seen this millennium.

Seth and Evan have been Best Friends Forever. Seth is a fast-talking force of nature. Evan hesitantly follows, muttering biting commentary just soft enough that nobody else can hear. Despite all the talk, they've never actually done anything. People either spit on them, step on them, or remain completely unaware of their existence. Each has a girl he rather likes. Early scenes hint that the girls just might like them back.

Fogell, narrow-shouldered with glasses that appear to hold up his head, is the least popular kid in school. He abides his condition with understated and unpredictable rhythm. When Seth and Evan need to obtain alcohol for their ladies' party, Forgell just happens to have obtained a fake ID.

What happens next combines the moment-in-time feel of Garden State with the raunchy surprises of Animal House. Anyone who has seen the trailer knows that the boys make it to the party. But the journey is hardly A to B. Pit stops along the way include drugs, sex, alcohol, violence — including drug-induced sex, sex-induced violence, and sex-induced alcohol. Along the way you'll meet violent old men, crack heads with hazy memories, unconventional police officers, and McLovin. You'll experience a sing-along, gun violence, discoloured alcohol, and a gross-out scene that makes There's Something About Mary look like an after school special.

And yet, for all of that, a little of that warmth and emotional honesty from that other movie starring Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan seems to have rubbed off. The hefty young protagonist and his gawky best friend may have filthier mouths than the American Pie boys, but intercourse is not so neat a finish line for them. Like all things unknown, it is a prospect more terrifying than exciting. Elaborate plans are concocted without any real expectation of follow through.

And then Fogell gets picked up by the cops while the other two boys find themselves in the backseat of the car that just hit Seth (the character, not the actor). Like it or not, gears are in motion, promises have been made, and the boys amble on the best they can. Is there anything more true to life than that?

This movie will be successful for many reasons. It celebrates everything fun that's Really Unacceptable Behaviour: smoking, under-age drinking, drunk driving, drunk sex, drug use, fake IDs, driving erratically, objectification of women. The young leads, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, are real comic talents with impeccable timing. McLovin has entered the popular vernacular. It will be remembered because it remembers the unique agony of having everything ahead of you, with all the mistakes and success stories tantalizingly out of reach. (****)


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