Reviews

Monday, August 20, 2007

Superbad

Director: Greg Mottola (The Daytrippers)
Writers: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Producers: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Martha MacIsaac, Emma Stone
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 114 min
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
     We've seen it before: a couple of dorks' last summer together lookin' for a good time (i.e. laid) before they head to college. Along the way they say and do things that get them way over their heads and so ensues an adventure they'll never forget. So is it oringal? Not really. But is it still laugh-out-loud funny no matter how many times we see the story? Very definitely yes. When you've got Judd Apatow (Knocked Up and 40 Year-Old Virgin) with obviously a lot of creative control, you know it's going to have laughs galore.

      Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg claim that the story is semi-autobiographical. So much so that the two main characters in the film are named Seth and Evan. It is the last school year together for best friends Seth and Evan. After graduation, they'll both go to different schools and be apart. On one of the final weekends of senior year, they are miraculously invited to a party on the condition that they provide the alcohol. They rely on their dweeb of a friend who has a fake ID to get the booze before going to the party. In the liquor store, things go horribly wrong involving the cops, a homeless guy and a series of unfortunate events that lead to a most awful of nights; and to top it off, they didn't even get the booze. To win the girls and "defeat" the jocks, it is up to Seth and Evan to devise a plan. Even if that plan is a little foolhardy.

      What works the best with Superbad and what provides for the most laughs is the dialogue. Sure there is a little bit of physical comedy, but that takes a back seat to the snappy one liners, the not so snappy one-liners and the brave insults the characters throw at one another which just keep on coming minute after minute. Most notably is Seth, played by relative new-comer Jonah Hill. Although a short pudgy guy with not a lot of style, this is not "Vern" from Stand By Me. This kid has heart and balls; not to mention a terribly foul mouth. This foul mouth is a big part of why this movie is absolutely hilarious. You feel like maybe you shouldn't be laughing at what he says, but you just can't help it.

      As side characters, Seth Rogen and Bill Hader play two cops who aren't really out to bust anyone, they're just out for a good time; complete with beer, women, gun shooting and generally just messing with the public in shocking displays of abuse of power. Here is another example of where the writing takes over. Though these cops do get a bit on the silly and ridiculous side, it's easy to just go with it because the lines spoken are some of the funniest of the year - especially Rogen.

      Seth and Evan are totally believable as best buds; and who didn't have that one friend in high school that was just super dorky, yet somehow still likable? That's part of the fun with Superbad. Though it's ridiculous, vulgar and crude, we can at least sympathize with the characters and even empathize with them at times. It's fun to laugh at them, but it's also fun to root for them and hope they succeed in each mission they set for themselves.

      For me, I only have two gripes that actually sort of tie into one another and by fixing one, would alleviate the other. The running time seems just a bit too long. As with all Apatow films, it just seems to be dragging a smidgeon by the end. These are films that could be cut by about 15 or 20 minutes and it would really do them some justice. The length isn't unbearable, it just could be shaved. I don't mean to say that the film makers should've cut the final 20 minutes of the movie (as should've been done with Lord of the Rings 3), just snip bits and pieces in the back 2/3 of the film to tighten it up a bit.

      This brings up the second problem, which could be fixed by using the solution mentioned above. First of all, as I said, the cops do get a little ridiculous by the end and their final act is over the top. Had this been changed slightly or even cut, it would've been a little neater. The other problem is the gloominess and the unnecessity of segments towards the ending. There's a fight among the boys and then a make-up sequence. It seemed unnecessary to me and could've been completely removed from the film. It brings the film down from a fun high to a gloomy low much too quickly for my tastes. The mood is brought back up a little eventually, but it still sort of felt like a real downer of an ending.

      Superbad borrows ideas and stories we've seen many times in the recent past. All of which jumped through my mind as I watched: American Pie, Road Trip, Weird Science, Revenge of the Nerds and even a little bit of Bill and Ted. But see, there's a reason why all these movies succeed. They're relatable and funny as all get out. Superbad is no different and certainly won't be the last of this type of teen comedy. So have you seen it before? Sure, but not with these characters and these writers. Each line will put a smile to your lips and I laughed out loud more times than the number of fingers I have. To me that's comedy; and that's worth the price of admission.



Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer


Links:
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PROFILE for Superbad

Posted by Andrew James in
Review

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