Sadly, sometimes the greatest film can only be as good as its audience. Superbad is the sort of film whose target audience is a group that I do not normally associate with. At the start of the film I made the conscious decision not to sit in front of some teenagers with their feet on the seats, who had somehow timed their conversation to include, just as I was walking past, one saying to another “you’re a homo” (although, with the state of the modern teenager, you could probably expect something to this degree from them in any given conversation). Unfortunately, I still ended up with the worst audience since the second time I saw Brick. Answering their mobiles during the movie, talking across several rows, coming in and out, complaining loudly that the movie was boring. Listen here, kids! You were the ones who bought tickets to different movies so that you could sneak into this one, so shut up and watch the movie. If I ever have children, I’m going to teach them how to watch movies in a cinema, and coach them in the arts of not being vapid bigots with stupid hair and loud mouths.
As to the movie itself, though: it was everything I dreamed of and more. I’m thoroughly convinced that Seth Rogen cannot write a movie without making it somehow ridiculously homoerotic. Superbad is the sort of movie so charged that an ending with the guys getting the girls is sad because they lose each other in the process. This made the audience distinctly uncomfortable. More than this, the credits end with a procession of drawings of penises done by Seth, including a team of penises raising the flag at Iwo Jima. The teenaged boys in the audience left in audible disgust. Remember, folks: it’s impossible to be morally outraged if you don’t have morals.
Best friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) want to experience a party before they leave high school. They manage to swing an invite from Jules (Emma Stone) after they suggest that their friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) can perhaps secure some alcohol under the pseudonym of McLovin. Of course, not everything can go according to plan, and Superbad details that one night in the best of inexplicable seventies style.
If you’ve seen 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, you’re probably ready for the sort of dialogue that is on offer in Superbad. It’s obviously brought down to the level of “about to graduate, underage drinking, perpetual virgins”, but nonetheless a precedent has been set. What is new in the equation is Michael Cera, who is excellent but, at the same time, doesn’t really know how to speak a sentence without hesitating. Liz, with whom I saw the movie, had to frequently look away because of how awkward every situation was. I, having slightly more faith in movies, knew that everything would turn out just fine.
This is not the terrible awkwardness you get in other movies. Everything has an antidote. Writing that, I almost feel like I’m forgetting that I watched a movie with the following dialogue:
Jules: You scratch our backs, we’ll scratch yours.
Seth: Well Jules, the funny thing about my back is that it’s located on my cock.
Uh … yeah. I’d say it’s that kind of movie, but I have no idea what the fuck “that kind of movie” is in this instance.
There’s very little point in analysing comedy, because of the subjectivity of it all, but the theory behind the comedy is of course open. The characters on offer are genuinely funny, and create a surprising movie: I had no idea that it would take place over one day. This means that situations can be easily connected, and everything seems just that bit more hectic. While Seth and Evan are bumbling on their way to Jules’ party, Fogel is learning the facts of policework from the two most incompetent cops ever to not enforce the law. Strangely enough, everything in the movie makes sense. It’s about friendship, and love, and societal expectations. What happens when you fulfil them? What happens when the police assume that you’ve all got guns and crack? It’s enough to say that this is a funny movie that has a propulsive goal and surprisingly well developed relationships for something that happens in less than 24 hours.
Superbad is a movie that’s probably too smart for a lot of the people who want to go and see it, as evidenced by the audience that I had to contend with on a Saturday afternoon. I felt like I was atop a truck, throwing televisions at clamouring zombies who simply wouldn’t shut up. The thing is, Superbad is a movie that proves that drinking can make you stupid, that drugs are a scary thing, that there’s absolutely no problem in love between men, and that women are not objects.
I think that Superbad also proves something else, far more sinister, to America: Canada is one step closer to completely devouring your comedic soul. You have been warned.