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"SUPERBAD"
(2007) (Johan Hill, Michael Cera) (R)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: Three high school seniors set out to buy liquor for a big party where they hope it will help lower the inhibitions of the girls in which they're interested.
PLOT:
It's near the end of the high school year, and seniors and best friends Seth (JONAH HILL) and Evan (MICHAEL CERA) have learned of a big party being thrown by Jules (EMMA STONE). Seth is enamored with her, but being a nerd like Evan -- who likes Becca (MARTHA MACLSAAC) -- and their friend Fogell (CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE), who's smitten with Nicola (AVIVA), he doesn't stand a chance.

That is, unless he can ply her with liquor, a supposedly surefire but only rumored tactic the guys are willing to try. The problem is that none of them are old enough to buy booze, but with Fogell sporting a fake I.D. that states his name is McLovin, he decides to give it a try.

Just as he's about to succeed, a liquor store robber decks him, resulting in Officers Slater (BILL HADER) and Michaels (SETH ROGEN) arriving on the scene. A pair of goofballs, they end up taking Fogell on their nightly rounds, including stops at bar where they get liquored up.

At the same time, Seth and Evan hope to score liquor elsewhere, a quest that ends up getting more complicated than they ever imagined. With the night wearing on and fearing they might miss their chances with the respective girls of their lustful dreams, the three guys do what they can to make it to the party and get those young women drunk before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
Teenage boys know everything about sex, yet they also know nothing or at least next to nothing about it. They may talk a mean game with their buddies about knowing all of the ins and outs of the opposite sex. Yet, in reality, many are just bluffing and/or operating on the basis of misinformation they've gleaned from friends, movies, or (and particularly nowadays) the Internet, most of which -- obviously -- isn't entirely or even remotely true.

Accordingly, they don't really know as much as they think or pretend to, all of which can lead to some amusing moments when one overhears them doing such cocksure boasting. That's part of the fun and a little bit of the charm to be found in "Superbad," one of the raunchiest and, at times, funniest teen sex comedies to come down the cinematic pike in quite some time.

In it, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera plays best friends who talk a big game about girls, but are just bluffing, hoping the other buys into what they're saying. With graduation fast approaching, they realize an upcoming, big blowout party might be their last chance to test the waters and see if what they've been told, read, or simply made up turns out to have any basis in reality.

All they need to do is score some booze -- thinking that's the only social lubricant needed to get the girls in bed -- and they should be set. The big problem, among many they're about to encounter in this bit of 24-hour storytelling, however, is that they're obviously not old enough to make any liquor store purchases.

Undeterred, they set out -- with their friend played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse -- and try to complete that first task. Not surprisingly, that leads to various comedic complications that only escalate as the evening and night wear on and thus threaten to derail their amorous plans.

Considering that Judd Apatow -- of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" fame -- is involved in the project, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the film is filled with risqué, often outrageous, and, at times, surprisingly charming moments that somehow manage to poke their heads up through all of the rampant filth.

Yet, this time Apatow is only serving as one of the film's producers, meaning all of the above doesn't quite reach the levels of the same found in the earlier films, especially regarding "Virgin." That is, except for the outrageous material, one disgusting bit of which is so over the top that it's most likely the first time it's appeared in a mainstream movie.

Considering that's the sort of notoriety for which these movies strive and then thrive from (think of the "hair gel" scene in "There's Something About Mary" and the apple pie one in "American Pie"), I guess one could say that the filmmakers -- director Greg Mottola and writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg -- have succeeded.

Yet, that doesn't make the scene any less gross although I'm guessing the target audience of teen boys will be rolling in the aisles over it. Which will also hold true for all of the other antics that occur, some of which are less successful - from a comedy standpoint - than others.

That includes a long running gag bit featuring Rogen and Bill Hader as less than two of society's finest police officers out for a night, drinking and generally corrupting Mintz-Plasse's character. While those scenes chew up a lot of screen time, the film is far more successful when it allows the charm - then in Apatow's other films, albeit in much smaller doses this time around - to work its magic.

While also played for goofy comedy at times (such as when the two friends, in separate sleeping bags on the floor, comment on why in today's society they can't just say they love each other - that is, platonically), it's those moments that soften some of the otherwise raunchy material and thus make the characters a little more engaging and likable than one would otherwise imagine for a film like this. It's not to the same successful degree as occurred with "40-Year-Old Virgin," but at least it's present.

With a bit - okay, a lot - more of that, as well as a more developed view of the proceedings from the young ladies' point of view, the film could have been a classic in the teen sex comedy sub-genre. As it stands, it has its share of amusing and sometimes hilarious moments, but its target demographic will probably find it far funnier than older viewers who've seen these same sorts of films over the years. "Superbad" rates as a 4.5 out of 10.




Reviewed July 11, 2007 / Posted August 17, 2007


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