Superbad

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Superbad
Review (8.5/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

Have you ever noticed that some of the funniest people in Hollywood are Canadian? Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Dan Ackroyd, the late John Candy, Eugene Levy, Michael J. Fox, the late Phil Hartman, Howie Mandel, Leslie Nielsen, Martin Short, William Shatner, all hail from Canada. (You would never know it because so few of them have returned to Canada after making it big, but that is another story.)

Out of nowhere, a new figure has recently emerged on the horizon. He, too, is Canadian (born and raised in Vancouver) and he appears to be on the fast track to assume the crown as Hollywood's new King of Comedy. His name is Seth Rogen - some of you may remember his face from a little film released earlier this summer called "Knocked Up".

Unlike the lazy slackers that he plays in his films, Seth Rogen is, in fact, a busy guy. Not content to star in one of the year's top twenty highest grossing films, he has written screenplays for two films in which he is also appearing, he has done voicework for one animated film, and he has supporting roles in two other upcoming releases. Not bad for a high school dropout and one-time pothead.

If there is one project that has been near and dear to Seth Rogen's heart, it would have to be Superbad, a film based upon an idea that Rogen developed with his friend, Evan Goldberg, when the two were only thirteen years old. A loosely autobiographical tale, Superbad tells the story of Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), two lifelong friends who are weeks away from graduating from high school. Smart and sensitive Evan has been accepted to Dartmouth University, while the boisterous and boorish Seth has not, and they find themselves faced with the prospect that they will soon be separated for the first time in their lives. When they are invited to a graduation party with the "cool kids" in their class, they vow, with the help of their friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and his fake ID, to make it an evening that they will never forget.

Let me say at the outset that Superbad is not a film for everyone. It is crass, profane and at times simply disgusting. At its core, it is probably one of the funniest and most uncomfortably real teen comedies to grace the big screen in years, and will no doubt rise to the rarified ranks occupied by classics such as American Graffiti, Animal House, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Porky's and American Pie (the original, not its pathetic sequels). But it is just that - a teen comedy - so if you have reached the stage where a wild night is staying up to watch Lloyd Robertson instead of turning in after Peter Mansbridge, then this is definitely not the film for you.

Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and co-produced by Rogen's mentor, Judd Apatow (who wrote and directed "The 40-Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up"), Superbad is directed by Greg Mottola, a television director who worked with Rogen and Apatow on their short-lived television series, "Undeclared". It has been cast primarily with actors who are regular passengers on the Rogen-Apatow juggernaut. The one notable new addition is Christopher Mintz-Plasse who, after an open casting call, was cast in the role of Fogell. Even if this is the only role in which he is ever cast, Mintz-Plasse will be forever immortalized as McLovin.

What sets this film apart from the droves of unsuccessful teen comedies is its writing. Crass profanity aside, Rogen and Goldberg are gifted comedic writers who have managed to perfectly depict the painfully awkward realities of life as a hormonally-charged teenager. I have read a couple of articles that have criticized the film for objectifying its female characters but, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. This film provides a refreshingly accurate depiction of teenage girls, some of whom conduct themselves admirably, and others less so. In comparing this film to other "coming of age" comedies (such as the raunchy and objectifying "Porky's" and "American Pie"), I was actually surprised by the maturity of much of the humour in this film.

The other key element of this film is its soundtrack. Clearly, a lot of thought was dedicated to choosing the "right" classic rock songs for every scene, a talent that is possessed by few filmmakers (Cameron Crowe and Quentin Tarantino come to mind). And how appropriate to include a song made famous by the "original" Van Halen during the same week that they announce their first concert tour in 22 years. A coincidence? I think not.

Superbad is, ironically, not bad at all. It is guaranteed to entertain the 16 to 29 age group (unless accompanied by their parents, in which case they will wish that they could melt into their seats in the theatre). It provides some amusing moments for people like me, who still have a few clear memories of their high school days. But, for parents of teenagers, please take this advice: unless you want to confirm what you suspect your kids are doing when they walk out the door on Friday night, stay away from this film. Stay far, far away.

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