(Movie Review by T. Ward Porrill) Judd Apatow’s comedy smash “Knocked Up” started the 2007 summer movie season with a real, er, bang and with “Superbad,” the producer of the similarly sex-themed classic “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is certain to help this summer go down (again, sorry) as the funniest, if not horniest, summer in years. But really, summer 2007 will most likely be known as the Summer of Seth.
Seth Rogan is, of course, the actor-writer who went from supporting player in both Apatow’s criminally short-lived sitcom “Freaks and Geeks” as well as “The 40 Year Old Virgin” to leading man in “Knocked Up.” More geek than freak, Rogan has of late become the go-to guy for playing awkward, yet strangely confidant, dudes who are unabashed in their love for pot, porn, and, well, another popular “p” word. His dry, somewhat monotone, delivery of some of the most hysterically profane dialogue in the last comedy decade has turned him into the slacker’s version of Everyman. Yet as “Knocked Up” proved, his singular talents have prevented him from being forever branded as a second banana.
Although the unlikely comedy star is back to supporting player status in “Superbad” the movie is still 100% pure Rogen, or at least 50% as he co-wrote the movie with his writing partner Evan Goldberg, and based the story on their own teenage misadventures. “Superbad” chronicles the final day of senior year for – surprise, surprise – Seth, an awkward, overweight, hornytoad played by “Knocked Up” scene stealer Jonah Hill (who was to that film what Jack Black was to “High Infidelity”) and the sweet but confidence-challenged Evan, played by Michael Cera from “Arrested Development”( another criminally short-lived TV series with a sadly appropriate title.) When Seth is invited to a party being thrown by his classmate and school crush Jules, he vows to provide alcohol to the soiree in the hopes of scoring both her admiration and her underpants. Evan too has his own hopes of closing the deal with Becca, a cutie pie classmate who asks him to retrieve for her some Goldschlager-esque libaton for the evening’s festivities. Seth and Evan’s chances of success seem solidified when their wannabe-playa pal Fogell (a hilarious Christopher Mintz-Plasse) scores a fake ID, albeit one with a single, ill-advised sobriquet: McLovin’.
Since “Superbad” is not only a comedy but a Judd Apatow-produced/Seth Rogan-penned one, the trio’s road to post-party poontang is not only rocky, but also hilariously filthy in the too-painful-to-look-at-the-screen vein. And given that all of the debaucherous shenanigans take place in one memorably-awful evening, the movie plays like a perverted version of “Dazed and Confused.” Think “American Graffiti” meets “American Pie.”
One of the major roadblocks (or, if you will, c**kblocks) for the gang is two of the worst police officers ever portrayed on film. As played by SNL’s Bill Hader and Rogan himself, Officers Slater and Michaels, are too dim-witted to realize “McLovin” is nowhere near 21 years old, and are also stupid enough to take the horrified teen along on a disastrous police call. As hilarious as Rogan and Hader are as characters even dumber than the cadets from “Police Academy,” their one-too-many scenes slow the movie’s pace way down (though Slater’s reference to Yoda as being a character from “Attack of the Clones” will have me laughing until summer’s end.) For a movie that is essentially about three guys trying to get to a party, after a while you can’t help but want them to get just get to the party already. And though an improbable visual gag involving menstrual blood being transferred during some dance floor grinding threatens to leave a stain of the unfunny variety on the film, the desperate dynamic between Hill and Cera keeps the comedy, well, flowing.
Despite its meandering middle act, “Superbad” more than redeems itself in its last half hour or so as Seth, Evan and Fogell/McLovin finally come to face to face (not to mention other body parts) with their respective conquests, er, dates. Much like “40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” a surprising sweetness can be found at the core of this “bros before hos” parable, as Seth and Evan the realize the true value of friendship even though the looming college years may very well threaten to sever their “Brokeback”-esque bond.
Directed by Greg Mottola (whose “Daytrippers” was a hit among a cult I have yet to join,) “Superbad” is both a classic teen movie for the “aughts” as well as another great vehicle for the formidable talents of Seth Rogan. As both an actor and an author, he helps to deliver laugh-out-loud comedies that are almost too brutally honest in their portrayals of geek love, but are also the very definition of being so wrong and yet so right at the same time. Lord knows if the real life Seth and Evan ever attended college, but something tells me audiences would pay to see these guys crashing a frat party in “Superbad 2: More McLovin!”
Greg Mottola (director) / Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (screenplay)
CAST: Jonah Hill … Seth
Michael Cera … Evan
Christopher Mintz-Plasse … Fogell
Bill Hader … Officer Slater
Seth Rogen … Officer Michaels
Martha MacIsaac … Becca
Emma Stone … Jules