How obsessed with male genitalia is Greg (welcome back!) Mottola’s Superbad? Let me put it this way: it features probably the first and last interpretation of a giant penis standing down the tanks of Tiananmen Square, circa 1989. More to the point, while Superbad comes from the Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen universe, it’s not the date movie Knocked Up was. Nor is it as clever in its storytelling or character development. However, Superbad (opening this weekend) is still one of the funniest studio comedies you’ll see in theaters these days (well, theaters not showing Knocked Up anymore). It’s crude, immature, and mostly hilarious.
Exploring the well-worn territory of horny teens looking to score alcohol and sex, co-writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg make it unapologetically autobiographical. And this is what makes Superbad so distinct, energetic, and entertaining. Buyer beware: that’s all it is. Knocked Up and The 40 Year-Old Virgin included a poignancy that elevated them above simple bathroom humor. Yet there’s something lovable and pure about Superbad embracing its immaturity. Besides, that’s kind of the point when you make a film about high school seniors looking to get laid.
Some of the credit is due to Rogen and Goldberg’s giddy screenplay, but most of it is due to stars Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. As the trio of lovable nerds, they each excel at developing sympathetic characters you laugh both with and at, throughout the film. Hill and Mintz-Plasse are fantastic, but Cera (a fan favorite of the short-lived TV show Arrested Development) is the one bound for overnight stardom. He delicately balances both “straight man” and “awkward dweeb,” in a way that recalls a young Steve Carell or Ben Stiller. Jonah Hill is the “bull in a china shop,” playing off physical comedy and hyperactive tantrums. (Side note: Hill attended SXSW 2007 for the screening of Knocked Up, and he couldn’t have been a sweeter, more carefree, and relaxed guy. So apparently he’s a good actor, too.)
Jarren, Kayla, and I attended the Superbad screening on Thursday night. And, while all three of us enjoyed it, I was clearly the biggest fan. The jokes-to-laughs ratio may not equal other Apatow productions, but Superbad delivers more than enough funny to become a new teen sex classic. In other words, it’s a comedy made for the 17 year-old virgin in us all.