**** out of *****
If the summer of 2007 has proved anything, it’s that sex comedies can have a heart. First there was “Knocked Up,” a film that balanced unabashed vulgarity with a sweet relationship between the two most unlikely characters ever to come together in a romantic comedy.
Now we have “Superbad,” which is, ostensibly, a teenage sex-romp about two geeks trying to get laid. But “Superbad” isn’t just about sex (though it is certainly about the pursuit of sex). It’s also about two inseparable friends who have no one but each other and who are terrified of parting ways once they start college; it’s a buddy film.
Jonah Hill (fresh off a hilarious supporting role in “Knocked Up”) and Michael Cera play Seth and Evan, respectively, high school seniors jonesing to do the nasty before heading off to separate colleges.
Seth is the more unreserved of the two, incessantly pontificating on the subjects of girls and sex and how he’d like to have sex with girls. An early scene in the film has Seth explaining how he peaked too early in his pursuit to get lucky and subsequently comparing himself to Orson Welles.
This is a big part of what distinguishes “Superbad” from other teen sex-comedies: it’s smart. The film’s dialogue – especially the repartee between Seth and Evan – is interesting and filled with clever references. It’s also wonderfully, gloriously profane. It makes the dialogue in similarly-plotted movies like “American Pie” seem stiff and hollow (and relatively chaste).
If Seth is the extroverted loudmouth with seemingly no barrier between what he thinks and what comes out of his mouth, Evan is the shy, awkward friend who balances out Seth’s outrageousness.
He stutters when talking to a pretty girl he likes, and he’s reluctant to go along with Seth’s scheme to use their other friend’s fake ID to buy booze for an upcoming party, which Seth thinks will increase their chances with the girls they like.
That other friend is the already-infamous Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), better known as “McLovin,” the fake name on his fake ID.
McLovin’s adventures trying to purchase booze provide some very funny moments in the film – none of which I will spoil by recounting them here. Suffice it to say that Mintz-Plasse’s performance is worth the price of admission all by itself.
But the film ultimately belongs to Seth and Evan. Their friendship is at the heart of “Superbad” and it is what gives the film its heart. Like “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” manages to successfully disguise a story about growing up in and amongst a bunch of jokes about genitalia and intercourse.