Superbad (review)

Seth and Evan’s Stupid Adventure

Actor Seth “Knocked Up” Rogen and his best friend from childhood, Evan Goldberg, wrote the script for Superbad when they were 13 years old. And they are proud of this. They are so proud of this that their protagonists are named “Seth” and “Evan.” What’s more, Rogen’s entree into the Hollywood elite — as a writer/actor — came about because, he says, “it became clear I wasn’t going to graduate high school, so I needed some kind of avenue of making money for myself.”

This is why Hollywood mostly sucks: Corporate movies are getting made from scripts written by 13-year-olds who went on to drop out of high school.

Movies about horny teenagers? Fine. Being a horny teenager is a human experience common to everyone, male and female alike. (Though of course the corporate films, including this one, barely acknowledge female sexuality at all, except in negative ways, never mind adolescent female sexuality. But that’s a whole nother rant.) See Y Tu Mama Tambien, for one. Or American Graffiti, for another. Or Dazed and Confused, for a third.

Superbad is not fit to lick the boots of those movies. Superbad isn’t fit to lick the boots of the movies that are fit to lick the boots of those movies. Because this is a movie written by horny teenagers who think their horniness is clever or unique or even vaguely interesting. Who have no perspective on that adolescent experience, still being caught in the awful throes of it. (No, no, I shan’t listen to suggestions that the script went through any polishes between the time it left the grubby 13-year-old psyches of Rogen and Goldberg and the time shooting began — my mind cannot even comprehend that it could have been any more juvenile than it currently is.) This movie is fit only, perhaps, for other horny 13-year-old boys who haven’t yet gotten over their mortification of their own bodies or at the fluids bodies male and female produce in the natural course of being human, and “worse,” the natural course of being sexual creatures. Oh, the semen jokes are, of course, de rigueur and copious, but Superbad achieves a new low in gross-out humor: an extended menstrual-blood “joke.”

One must wonder how these boys manage to hold the simultaneous thoughts in their heads, that hot chicks are, well, hot and there to be totally fuckable and possibly also actually fucked by them, and also that girls are gross and disgusting and untouchable and that no greater indignity can be imagined than getting a bit of period blood on you. Only 13-year-old boys — or those eternally 13 — could possibly endure the nonstop barrage of male adolescent fear of sex, of women, that is Superbad. Oh, and don’t demonstrate the slightest bit of affection for male friends, either. That’s so gay.

It all goes on for very close to two excruciating hours, as Seth (Jonah Hill: Evan Almighty, Accepted), an angry unpleasant moron, and his best friend, Evan (Michael Cera), a sweet but pathologically shy dork, spend an afternoon trying to buy booze for a high-school party to impress Jules (Emma Stone), a ridiculously hot babe Seth actually thinks he has a chance with. That the movie suggests that he really does puts this smack in the realm of high fantasy… or 13-year-old wishful thinking. Their pal, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), owner of a fake ID that dubs him “McLovin” — a joke that gets stretched out way past its expiration date — gets sidetracked in the booze-buying effort and ends up spending the evening with a couple of terrifying cops (one of which is played by Rogen) who are supposed to be funny but instead serve as evidence that some legal adults who are male aren’t, in fact, men.

But that’s fine, I guess, because most of the movie is one big sidetrack: it’s all just a skeleton upon which to hang pointlessly filthy dialogue like Seth’s “I am truly jealous you got to suck on those tits when you were a baby” (about Evan’s mother) and “She looks like she can take a dick.” That’s Seth again, and yes, I know that boys trash-talk like this, cluelessly pondering those great mysteries of women’s bodies, and of adult life in general. What is disturbing in the extreme about this — about the entirety of Superbad, particularly in the fact that is being marketed to adults — is that it suggests that these mysteries have yet to be solved, or even broached, by anyone involved in making this movie, and must be unbroached by the audience, as well, for maximum enjoyment. Or, indeed, at enjoyment at all.

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