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Superbad

Ladies and Gentlemen, the teen comedy is back. What’s that you’re saying? You thought it was already back with the string of teen movies where a girl might be “all that” or a guy might just hump a pie? Unfortunately, my friend, you were duped.

Those were some square’s idea of a comedy movie in teen comedy’s clothing. But no one does teens quite like Judd Apatow. (Whoa, that didn’t come out right…)

Creator of the now classic television show and probably one of the best chroniclings of teen angst, Freaks and Geeks, Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) returns, producing one of the best teenage comedies ever. Yes. I said ever. How can I be so crass? Well… this movie is Superbad baby, that’s why.

Superbad is the latest project out the gate from Judd Apatow’s rolling snowball of a production company, and it may just be their best effort yet. Directed by Greg Mottola and written by Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and Evan Goldberg, Superbad is the story of Seth (the delightfully motor-mouthed Jonah Hill) and Evan (Arrested Development’s Michael Cera), two teenagers facing the impending abyss that is life after high school.

With three weeks left, the two best friends are faced with accomplishing all the unfinished business they’ve left undone through four years of school life. That business being Evan realizing his crush on his dream girl, Seth getting some vag and the both of them tasting just a little bit of that illusive high school popularity before it’s gone forever.

The chance arises when Seth is partnered up with Jules (The Lohanesque Emma Stone) in Home Economics class and he hints that he and his buddies can get booze with fake I.D.s. She in turn invites him to a bash at her vacant parents' home over the weekend if he can manage to rustle up a party’s worth of libations.

Worried that he might have spoken too soon, Seth fears he’ll be unable to achieve said goal, and puts his hopes in the hands of nerdy third wheel and recent fake ID owner, Fogel, or as he’s later referred to as, McLovin.

The rest of the movie is true, a teen quest for firewater that once it picks up, becomes an irreverent explosion of brash and riotous comedy. However, the movie, like most of Apatow’s productions, never manages to lose its heart. The movie remembers, at its core, what it’s like to be an awkward teenager, and all the relationships in the film are believable and fun. The freshness of the film is mostly accomplished by the great casting and the snappy dialogue, most of which feels improvised and alive, and most importantly, very real.

Also, with the seemingly basic plot, director Mottola captures the scope of the central goal, setting up something as simple as getting beer for a party and making it akin to rescuing the Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis. Mottola also makes this a movie about friendship and how important it is in a young person’s life and future. It’s these small details that flesh out the true spirit of what Superbad is all about.

The other thing that’s Superbad about this movie is the incredible ensemble cast. Jonah Hill (Knocked Up) is always fun to listen to, and at times, you really need to pay attention through all of your own laughing to get the complete grasp of what he’s really saying. Michael Cera, slowly growing out of his George Michael from Arrested Development style, is very charming in this movie, and his innocence is so authentic and likable. He has an appealing quality, and with the right moves, you could be looking at the next Tom Hanks in ten years.

Then there’s McLovin.

I feel so sorry for newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse, because the kid nails the Fogel character so much that he will be, now and forever, known as McLovin. This is the type of character that Bluto was in Animal House. He’s legendary, already stealing the movie and literally having audience members cheering out loud.

Mintz-Plasse brings the nerd essence to his Fogel character but doesn’t make it stereotypical. McLovin works because Mintz-Plasse goes whole-heartedly into the role and reminds us of every geeky kid we’ve ever known in our lives, and then makes us root for them. It’s an impressive first appearance for this kid. Let’s just hope it’s not his last, because he’s got chops, and I don’t want to see him get pigeon holed.

Screenwriter Rogen also appears in the film alongside Bill Hader (SNL) as two bumbling nerdy cops who cross paths with McLovin. The cops are a big part of the funny in this film, and Hader is in top form here. For me, he hearkens back to the heyday of classic supporting comedians and his potential reminds me of a young Dan Aykroyd. Rogen is good as his partner, but mostly plays back in the comedy mix, allowing the rest of the crew to get the laughs. He gets lots of good lines, no doubt, but his character is the good cop to Hader’s crazy cop.

Finally, one of the most satisfying aspects of Superbad is the soundtrack. The movie is named after the James Brown song, so you know they had to bring their “A” game to the music. What’s so great about this movie’s sound is that it tries to exist in its own universe. There aren’t many catchy ditties from the punk boy band of the week here; this is a straight up soul funk soundtrack, by the Superbad Band with contributions from James Brown bassist Bootsy Collins. Music plays such an important part in movies and with the wrong combination, it can betray the emotions on the screen. Luckily, in Superbad, from the opening credits and the grooving bass line, you know right away what you’re supposed to feel. Super Bad.

I liked this movie tremendously. However, it drags a little in the beginning, but that helps develop the Seth / Evan friendship and it’s totally necessary. Other than that, I laughed and I laughed hard. As with many of Judd Apatow’s productions, the stories they put their teenagers through are so relatable, they feel like a chapter out of my own adolescence. In a weird way, watching Superbad is like reliving those times, good or bad.

This isn’t just a funny teen comedy, it’s a well made movie. The script plays believably, the acting is real, the direction is smooth and the music is on point. Superbad is a movie I will tell all my friends about and pay to see again. Mostly because I want to hear all those funny lines again and laugh my ass off. But more importantly, I’ll see this movie again, because it’s Super Good. (Yeah, I went there. Deal with it!)

Lon Lopez

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