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Monday, August 20, 2007

Superbad

While all of the old guard at the Essex Cinemas has been scattering off to college in the past couple of weeks I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself that this old lady is just going to be left behind, sitting in the theater alone and missing all the fun. It’s amazing what you can delude yourself into thinking you remember about “the good old days.”

I would conjure up my fantasy of what I imagined 18 was like. Obviously, my senility has begun because as I remember it the time was full of Happy Days with my friends Ritchie and Potsie and this one real stud named The Fonz. Oh wait. That wasn’t my teenage years. No. I had a crappy basement apartment with these two loser tramps who worked in a beer factory in Milwaukee and hung out with the worst couple of duds you could ever dream up. Hmmm. As a matter of fact, they were dreamed up. What was I thinking?

Now that I put my mind to it I don’t remember ANY great teenage memories of my own. Let’s face it. Those years between “I’ve got hair growing down there” to “I now pronounce you off the market until after the first divorce” is a hellish time, and it always has been. Bodily fluids are not just spilled. They are spewed, splattered, squirted, and tsunamied at all the wrong times and targets. Teachers and parents become nightmarish cartoons in a world where there are only three real concerns: sex, getting wasted, and not getting caught at the first two. This pretty much sums up the whole plot of
Superbad, now playing at the Essex Cinemas.

Superbad is a risky film. Who in their right mind would take the gamble of naming a teen sex comedy “Superbad”? It just cries out to be mocked by critics like me who love to jump on stuff like this, but since it comes from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the writers and executive producers of Knocked Up, I’ll cut them some slack because it is fairly obvious from the content here that they are not in their right minds. They don’t even try to hide the autobiographical nature of this shameless hustle for adolescent sex. The title characters are called ~ get this ~ Seth and Evan, and they look surprisingly like younger versions of the real life writers/performers themselves.

In
Superbad, Seth (Jonah Hill; Evan Almighty) and Evan (Michael Cera; (tv’s “Arrested Development”) are best friends forever, or at least until college separates them. They’ve spent most of their lives together, since age 3 as a matter of fact, and now Evan has been accepted at Dartmouth while Seth hasn’t, meaning he will be staying in their nameless town and stuck going to a community college alone. There is an undercurrent of anger and fear in much of Seth’s behavior towards Evan as seen in his vile and uncontrollable language, which will definitely offend some viewers. I’ve rarely seen this much vulgarity in any film, and the f-bomb is dropped more often than even in a dozen airings of Pulp Fiction. Even so, Seth is a righteous and loyal friend and he does everything he can to protect his buddy throughout the movie when things go terribly awry. Evan, on the other hand, is a thought-filled young man who observes life as much as lives it and his times with Jonah are the best fun he has. At the same time, he knows that he needs to grow-up and move past the “kids’ life” he has with his best friend and step up and into adulthood, so this last Summer together is almost poignant. Now doesn’t all this sound fascinating and like high art at work? Yeah? Well, that’s the crap that a bunch of high-brow critics have been gushing in magazines like Time and Newsweek, in the daily papers, and on the tv shows like “Ebert & Roeper at the Movies.”

The truth is
Superbad is a hit because it is a simple booty call with the easiest, lamest script there is. It requires about two working brain cells to get the jokes here, and in the end the geeks rule the Earth.

The plot is a meandering story that is not far from the pattern of 1985’s After Hours and the atmosphere is reminiscent of 1973’s American Graffiti. Seth, Evan, and their even dorkier pal Fogell (debuting scene stealer Christopher Mintz-Plasse) are dispatched by Seth’s dream girl, Jules (Emma Stone; late of tv’s “Drive”), to get large quantities of liquor for her (underage) graduation party, to be held that night at her place since her parents were out of town.

Getting booze becomes a mighty task and there are lots of unexpected antics that pop up in the course of Fogell’s shopping spree while using his fake ID and new identity as McLovin’. Yep. Just McLovin’. “Like Cher,” he explains.

Along the way, McLovin’ encounters two very friendly cops played by “Saturday Night Live” regular Bill Hader (Hot Rod) and Superbad author himself Seth Rogen (Knocked Up). I suppose it never hurts to have a cop or two as friends but these two are enough to make you want to go to jail ~ for your own safety.

Evan and Seth have their own run-in, or run over actually, that leads them to being taken to a party that is a little more than what they expected. There’s some bloody good fun for sure that may gross you out, but these are some of the most original and funniest scenes ever ~ at least the funniest involving menstrual blood anyway.

Yes, this comedy goes as far as menstrual blood for laughs so if you can get past the vomit sight gags (and gag is definitely the right word for them), the hundred or so drawings of penises in various poses (there’s even a Batpenis amongst the crowd), and the constant reference to young
women as nothing more than euphemisms for housecats, which actually only focuses on one part of the woman’s anatomy (if you get my drift, and I am sure you do, unless you’re a complete p***y).

The humor is gross out and stupid from beginning to end, not that there’s anything wrong with that. There are some sweet moments here and there, but I’m not sure I’d bring my Amish friends or my parents to see
Superbad. I think I’d be too embarrassed to have them think that this is the sort of stuff I was involved in back when I was in high school. And the worst part is they’d be right.

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