Director    Greg Mottola
Starring    Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Emma Stone
Release    August 17th (US) September 14th (UK)    Certificate 15
4 stars


19th August 2007

Remember being the age where you were young, dumb and full of something you would later learn was called cum? That socially retarded, awkward as all hell, moist-panted phase towards the end of school and the beginning of the rest of your life? The age when all you and your buddies wanted to do was get laid (but didn't know why) and get wasted (but hated the actual drinking)? That was adolescence, friends, and having been pubic for well over a decade now, I can look back at that era of my life and laugh heartily, because I can recognise that ridiculousness of it all. I did things in my bathroom at home that I'm not proud of, but I'll be goddamned it if they're not funny to recall today.

It's strange then, that high school comedies so consistently miss the mark, preferring clichéd stories about preppy football jocks and beautiful prom queens. Even the highly regarded American Pie, which saw a group of four nerdy kids looking to score by the close of their school life, had the protagonists fucking Tara Reid and Mena Suvari by the closing credits - real realistic, guys. Sadly, Superbad is destined to be promoted as 'the new American Pie' due to a similar storyline - two kids hunt for alcohol in order to get laid at an end-of-term party - but that would be doing it an injustice. It's a comedy that captures the awkward transition period of a young man's life - where the most important things are parties and pussy - but somehow avoids being overly crude. Sure, it's got dick jokes and sexual shenanigans, but there's an undercurrent of niceness that's absent in its brain dead contemporaries. In short, it's one of the funniest high school movies of the last ten years.

Evan (Cera) and Seth (Hill) are the young men in question: high school misfits with a lack of self-confidence but an overflow of hormones. When Seth's lust object Jules (Emma Stone) mentions she's throwing a party, Seth offers to supply the alcohol with the help of his geeky friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and his fake ID - say hello to 'McLovin', the 25 year-old Hawaiian organ donor. When Fogell ends up in the back of a cop car courtesy of Seth Rogen and Bill Hader's partying police officers, Seth and Evan seek alternative ways to find booze.

This is no gross-out comedy - no pie fucking, no cum eating, no pissing in hair - so instead, the chuckles comes from the refreshingly natural script. Hill and Cera spar with each other like they've been doing it for years, killer line following killer line, none of which feel like they've been scripted. It's that rare combination of unintelligent dialogue (the 'fucks' score a ten on the Tommy DeVito scale) that's written intelligently - in other words, it's kids speaking exactly how kids speak. The insults fly thick and fast (the line "I'm so jealous you got to suck on your Mom's titties when you were a baby" is met with "At least you got to suck on your dad's dick") with Hill and Cera proving extremely talented young comedic actors. Cera has already perfected his nervous loner shtick from Arrested Development, while Hill is already being touted as 'the new Seth Rogen' before Seth Rogen has even been labelled the new anybody.

Superbad is deceptively sweet; the plot might involve the quest for alcohol, but the drive of the story is the relationship between the two lifelong friends, due to part ways within months. There's a heartbreakingly hilarious coda in which the two boys separate, leaving each other for what seems to be the first time ever with an awkward handshake and the utterance "I... uh, I have your information, so..." When you have two kids who've come to depend on each other as much as Seth and Evan, they're obviously going to riff off each other, but the pathos is there too. Crucially, they're so bloody likeable - two innocent youngsters drowning in a sea of misplaced testosterone.

Really though, Superbad is just an excuse for writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg to let fly with all manner of insults and put-downs - the script was written when they were both 14, which explains why it sounds so perfectly puerile. The laughs rarely stop, right through a running time pushing two hours, though it never drags its heels or busies itself with unnecessary storylines. It's a simple tale about two horny kids not only on a quest for vodka, beer and sticky fumbling, but they're looking to find themselves in the process. I'll be damned if there's many people left in the cinema afterwards who won't relate to that.

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