Honestly, Superbad isn't quite as funny as either film. It isn't even the funniest movie released this summer. That distinction still belongs to Knocked Up, which coincidentally was directed by Superbad producer Judd Apatow. The latter packs all the profanity of the former, but sheds the legitimate emotion and dramatic consequence that made Knocked a surprisingly accessible hit.
And yet, with gallons of ink being spilled in its favor, most of the prerelease puff pieces are overlooking the unmistakable element that really sets this film apart: Superbad is super gay. It rests its fate on an unspoken -- but severely suggested -- romance between two men. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Marketing materials downplay the relationship, which is understandable. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain waged a well-publicized uphill battle against intolerance when it reached theaters. Sony needs Superbad to compete in the summer marketplace before those back-to-school sales lure the coveted male demographic away from theaters, so commercials are top-heavy with the film's other selling point: its relentless vulgarity, all of which is aimed below the belt.
There are very funny lines in Superbad, though bringing them up in mixed company is ill-advised. The script was written by best friends Seth Rogen (the Knocked Up lead who co-stars here as a juvenile police officer) and Evan Goldberg, reportedly when they were teenagers themselves. It revolves around creatively-named high-school chums Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), who must cope with separation anxiety as they prepare to attend different colleges in the fall. Putting their fears aside, the two plan a final fling which involves -- as usual -- underage girls and the illegal consumption of booze.
Seth and Evan also are deeply in love, but the film isn't brave enough to let these guys admit it. Think I'm reading into things? At first, it just seems these social outcasts share a close bond of friendship. But the depth of their concern for each other becomes overwhelming as the movie progresses. Seth shares with Evan his passion for drawing male genitalia. Evan worries constantly how Seth will react when he learns Evan will be rooming with mutual friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) when he goes to Dartmouth in the fall. Watch the two of them playfully flirt during an impromptu sleepover, then stumble through an uncomfortable post-hook-up conversation the next morning. And when the two find themselves alone with women at the film-ending keg party, they each look as uncomfortable as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
Maybe the subtext wouldn't have resonated so firmly if the film didn't lag for long stretches. After establishing its rail-thin premise, Superbad abandons textbook odd couple Hill and Cera as they wander a stranger's party and dodge the cops. We follow Fogell and his newfound police buddies, but the picture doesn't regain its footing until the friends are reunited for the party that has prompted them to track down a laundry list of alcohol.
Why do comedies insist on establishing chemistry with actors, only to then waste energy driving wedges between the characters? It creates false drama. Is there any doubt all will be resolved by picture's end? Superbad clumsily falters when its leads are separated, but sparkles when vulgar Hill, deadpan Cera, and spastic Mintz-Plasse playfully improvise together. Just how "together" I'll leave up to you to decide.
Run time: 113 mins
In Theaters: Friday 17th August 2007
Box Office USA: $121.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $169.9M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures/Columbia
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Apatow Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 178 Rotten: 25
IMDB: 7.7 / 10
Director: Greg Motolla
Starring: Jonah Hill as Seth, Michael Cera as Evan, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fogell, Bill Hader as Officer Slater, Seth Rogen as Officer Michaels, Martha MacIsaac as Becca, Emma Stone as Jules, Aviva as Nicola, Joe Lo Truglio as Francis, Kevin Corrigan as Mark, Clement Blake as Homeless Guy (Obdachloser), Erica Vittina Phillips as Mindy, Joe Nunez as Liquor Store Clerk (Mitarbeiter Getränkeladen), Dave Franco as Greg (Soccer Player / Fußballspieler), Marcella Lentz-Pope as Gaby, Scott Gerbacia as Jesse, Laura Seay as Shirley, Roger Iwami as Miroki, Clint Mabry as Prosthetic Leg Kid (Kind mit Beinprothese), Stacy Edwards as Evan's Mom (Evans Mutter), Mark Rogen as Father with Bat, Charlie Hartsock as Good Shopper Cashier, Donna Hardy as Old Lady, Charley Rossman as Good Shopper Security, Carla Gallo as Period Blood Girl, Ben Best as Quince Danbury, Jody Hill as Tut Long John Silver, Kevin Breznahan as Patrick Manchester, David Krumholtz as Benji Austin, Mousa Kraish as Billy Baybridge, Nicholas Jasenovec as Coffee Fairmount, Martin Starr as James Masselin, Keith Loneker as Wild Bill Cherry, Matthew McKane as Kane Cloverdale, Lauren Miller as Scarlett Brighton, Peter Salett as Tiger Greendragon, Rakefet Abergel as Muffin Selby, Brooke Dillman as Mrs. Hayworth, Michael Naughton as Gym Teacher, Steve Bannos as Math Teacher, Casey Margolis as Young Seth, Laura Marano as Young Becca, Matthew Bass as Vagtastic Voyager, Aurora Snow as Vagtastic Voyage Girl #1, Jenna Haze as Vagtastic Voyage Girl #2, Ted Haigh as Bartender, Michael Fennessey as Bus Driver, Brian Huskey as Elementary Principal, Clark Duke as Party Teenager #1, Stephen Borrello IV as Party Teenager #2, Naathan Phan as Party Teenager #3, Pamella D'Pella as Teacher
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