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Thursday, June 13, 2024

"Superbad" is funny. Really funny. Actually, it'll make you hysterical. This comedy manages to remain witty during its entire 114 minute runtime and never slows down for more than a beat.

The story follows three friends, Seth (Jonah Hill), Evan (Michael Cera, of "Arrested Development") and Fogel/McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in the events surrounding a big, end-of-high-school bash.

The idea is nothing new. Following a bunch of high-school misfit virgins in their quest to "do the deed" has been done so many times that "Not Another Teen Movie" was made to spoof them. But rather than that fact taking away from this film, the movies that have come before serve as a foil to underline the excellence of "Superbad."

The same situation occurred with "Knocked Up," and the inevitable comparison between the two becomes necessary. I found "Superbad" to be funnier than "Knocked Up," but the two are so similar in humor and overall feel that it is difficult to say one is truly better than the other. These two movies therefore present opposite ends on a "theme magnet," which is why they work together rather than drive each other apart. "Superbad" also strengthens "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" group's status as the current "it" comedians. Popular comedy travels in waves: There was the Jim Carrey wave, the SNL wave and the Frat Pack wave. Now, it's the geeks wave - because let's face it, all the comedians in these movies are huge, lovable geeks.

To really see how well "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" work together, they should probably be watched together - they are a modern statement about comedy and life. Whereas "Knocked Up" makes the point that it is okay to grow up and adult life is fun, "Superbad" revels in the juvenile.

This theme is exemplified by characters played by Seth Rogan (who wrote this film?s screenplay and starred in "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin") and Bill Hader. They play cops (supposed authority figures) who are outrageous and childish. Scenes with them and Mintz-Plasse are perhaps the best in the movie and provide slapstick contrast to the mile-a-minute dialog comedy from Cera and Hill.

In fact, what really glues the movie together is the chemistry between the two of them. Both these young comedians have appeared in several smaller roles and out-shined their counterparts. In "Superbad," they play off each other so elegantly that neither one ever really steals a scene. At first one might be tempted to think that Jonah Hill was running the show, but upon reflection it is clear that without Michael Cera's understated lines, there would be no depth to the humor. This new comedy team is king of the one-two punch. Hill's jokes hit the viewer right away, while Cera's take a bit of time to ferment. When combined, there is no break in the humor, leaving the audience helplessly laughing for minutes at a time.

This movie is not for the easily offended, however. One drawback is the credulity of the film. While the common nature of the stars and universal problems they address are plausible, there are holes that stretch credibility. The sharp, obscene dialog is more reminiscent of college students than it is of kids in high school, and it is also impossible to believe that the events of McLovin's story are even remotely possible (not even beginning to address the implications of being hit by a car).

Ultimately, "Superbad" is a sardine can of a movie. It is packed tightly and has such a strong flavor that you are either going to love it or hate it, but either way, it is worth trying at least once.

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