In a day and age where comedy has suffered numerous hours in PG-13 detention, it's unbelievably refreshing to see what Judd Apatow and his merry gang of misfits have been able to do with the genre. On the surface, Superbad sounds like the many teen sex comedies that have come before it: Three horny geeks desperately want to lose their virginity before heading off to college. But instead of providing us with a Xerox copy full of old, repetitive jokes, the film takes a bunch of familiar scenarios and updates them for a generation (and a decade) in need of its own classic.
Whereas the 80's were filled to the brim with raunchy teen-related comedies like Animal House, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Last American Virgin, Porky's (I can go on ...), Hollywood doesn't seem to have the balls anymore to tell it like it is. To show us what it's really like to be a kid graduating high school in the year 2007. Superbad isn't just designed to appeal to today's current crop of sex-obsessed teenagers -- it's for anyone who's ever found themselves at a point where your friends are your entire world. Not only are they there to help score you a six-pack, but it's your friends who help define your experiences and create new, long-lasting memories. That's really what Superbad is about -- and if anyone disagrees, they can (quite frankly) f*ck off.
There's no long, detailed plot to go through here -- Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are two weeks away from graduating high school, and have just found out that they've been accepted to different colleges. When their tag-along friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) surprises the guys with a new fake I.D. (in which his name has been changed to the very awesome and instantly-memorable 'McLovin'), the boys use it as an opportunity to snag a ton of alcohol for a party hosted by the kind of girls you'd love to lose your virginity to. Problems arise when Fogell runs into two cops (who are way too immature to be handling a gun and a badge) at the liquor store, leaving Seth and Evan to fend for themselves, and somehow deliver the alcohol they promised before the night is over. And that's Superbad in a nutshell.
Of course, a whole mess of stuff happens to Seth, Evan and 'McLovin' along the way -- the latter is taken on the ride of his life, sandwiched between the moronic side of the law (as played by co-writer Seth Rogen and Bill Hader), while Seth and Evan bumble their way through a massive stoner party before finishing things off where most teen sex comedies resolve the last of their issues -- the all-too-important high school year-end bash. But while the film probably sets a record for out-of-control profanity (including a lengthily scene in which drawings of penises engulf the screen), it manages to toss in a whole bunch of heart too. It's through this outrageous experience that Seth and Evan learn how much they mean to one another, and at the same time the film delivers an inspiring message for people of all ages: Never take your friends for granted. These are the people that, for some odd reason, decided to share their lives -- their ups, their downs and their in-betweens -- with you and your heavy baggage. Respect them. Value them. And cherish the moments you spend together because, in an instant, they can be whisked away to another college, another job or another world upstairs.
Director Greg Mattola might be new to the big-screen, but he's not new to the Judd Apatow clan. Mattola directed a handful of Undeclared episodes and, here, he fits in like a frat boy at a keg party. It's one thing to be making your directorial debut from an extremely detailed script, but it's another to be directing a bunch of kids who work best in an improv environment. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera displayed some of the best on-screen chemistry I've seen all year, and newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse squeezed his shtick in there at just the right moments. But what's a classic comedy without its secondary characters? Rogen and Hader, as two cops desperate to re-live their glory days through a geek with a fake I.D., are hysterical. And when they pass a loaded gun to 'McLovin,' it almost feels like they're passing the comedic torch to an up-and-coming generation that's aspiring to be more like them.
And that's exactly what I love about these Judd Apatow films. They're funny as hell, sure, but each one strives to introduce new faces to a market that's chock-full of the same old, same old. Remember that scene from Swingers when Vince turns to Mikey and goes: "And you got these fu*king claws and these fangs, man! And you're looking at your claws and you're looking at your fangs. And you're thinking to yourself, you don't know what to do, man. 'I don't know how to kill the bunny.' With *this* you don't know how to kill the bunny, do you know what I mean?" Well it reminds me of Apatow and his friends. They have these claws, and these fangs, and they're using them to tear through this genre like a wild animal. 20 years from now Superbad will be a comedy classic, and we'll be looking back in fondness just as we do today with films from 20 years ago. Ain't it nice to watch history being made?