Three stars (PG-13)
If you’ve watched TV over the last month, even just a little, you’ve most likely seen an interview with somebody from Superbad, because these boys are really working this flick. Almost every August, a movie emerges as a surprise late-summer hit and the cast and crew of Superbad are doing everything short of making house calls to insure that their outrageous comedy is the one.
From catching snippets of various interviews I learned that Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and Evan Goldberg wrote the screenplay back when they were teenagers because they wanted to see a teen movie that reflected their reality. Studios turned down the project repeatedly until Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) became attached to the film as a producer. Rogen intended to play one of the lead boys, but passed the role to Jonah Hill because he looked too old to play a teenager (ironically, Hill is only a year younger than Rogen).
What else did I learn ... oh, during one cable interview, the guys announced with pride that the word “fuck” is used more in Superbad than in any other movie ever made, including Scarface. I strongly doubt this is true — a quick look on the Internet (type “most times fuck is used in a movie” in your search engine) casts doubts on the assertion, but the boast is a pretty good indicator of their mindset.
It’s also one of the main problems with the film. Superbad is funny, sometimes even sidesplitting, but I didn’t laugh as much as I expected because, at several points, the juvenile barrage of obscenities left me numb. Now I want to be clear: I’m juvenile and I have no problem with obscenities. Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. See? Still, the relentless swearing affected me. I heard the jokes — some of them quite good — but my laugh reflex was temporarily stunned.
Still, enough of the movie worked to warrant a recommendation. The story, which takes place over the course of one evening, follows two young best buddies (Hill and Arrested Development’s Michael Cera) as they try to buy alcohol, go to a party and get laid. A parallel storyline involves one of their friends, an amazingly gawkish kid (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who heads for the liquor store with a ridiculous phony driver’s license, gets decked by a robber and ends up on the ride of a lifetime with two maverick cops (Seth Rogen and SNL’s Bill Hader). There are women in Superbad, too (Emma Stone, Martha MacIsaac, Aviva), but they get the short shrift.
Despite the many off-putting traits of Jonah Hill’s character, I enjoyed the storyline of the best friends for its verisimilitude (a lot of us were just as obsessive and rude at that age). Though more contrived, I liked the secondary adventure with the kid and the cops more. Rogen and Hader make a good misfit team and 18-year-old Christopher Mintz-Plasse, in his first professional acting job (!!), steals the movie as uber-goofball Fogell. Numbing effect and all, Superbad is worth a look-see unless you’re easily offended, and if you are, you probably stopped reading this several paragraphs ago.