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HomeNewsArchives'Superbad' Called a 'Suburban Mock-Epic'

'Superbad' Called a 'Suburban Mock-Epic'

Sept. 12, 2007 — "Superbad," the latest cinematic exploration of teen angst, has garnered some unlikely fans. And a few critics.
Calling it a suburban mock-epic, David Denby of the New Yorker says that in spite of vestiges of infantile glee, "The movie combines desperately filthy talk with the most tender, even delicate, emotion."
It was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who began working on the script when they were 13, and who named the lead characters after themselves. It went through many revisions and guidance before finding director Greg Mottola, who co-produced the recent "Knocked Up," a post-teenage comedy of sorts.
Roger Ebert says, "Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) speak for possibly millions of other teenagers. The movie is astonishingly foul-mouthed, but in a fluent, confident way, where the point isn't the dirty words, but the flow and rhythm, and the deep, sad yearning they represent."
OK, here's the plot: Seth and Evan are seniors in high school who have not yet had sex. Oh, they're knowledgeable enough, trolling Internet porn sites, but they lack the nerve to approach girls in real life.
Until, to their astonishment, they are invited to the senior party by the uber-popular Jules (Emma Stone). They find out later the invitation hinges on them supplying all the booze for the evening. They have a sidekick named Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is so unpopular he is unpopular even with them. Ebert says the boys "feel lust for every girl in the school, but are so stuck for conversation that sometimes they simply say what time it is, as if they've been asked."
The action surrounds their misadventures securing the hootch. Denby says, "Getting themselves to the party turns out to be an adventure somewhat more difficult than that endured by the Greeks coming home from Troy."
Arriving at the party, quirky events pile one on another: There's a scene in which Evan is stuck in a room with a bunch of meatheads who think he's a rock star. As Evan complies, in an uncertain voice, the guys are so stoned they start singing backup.
Meantime, Fogell has had himself a fine time with a fake ID, which encourages chase by two cops who decide Fogell is a macho hero when he gets caught buying liquor illegally. (Don't ask for details.)
The movie's underlying theme, its dynamic, centers around the fact that the two boys will soon be separated, heading off to different colleges come fall. Denby says, "There's a gentle and entirely intentional homoerotic strain — never acted upon — running through the Seth-Evan friendship."
He continues, "In a startling digression, Seth airs his memories (in flashback) of a time when he was a little boy, and couldn't stop drawing penises … simple line drawings of magnificent organs and phallicized trees, artillery and towers. The sequence is hilarious and charming — a child's garden of verses for our time."
You may already know the actor who portrays Evan. He held his own on the TV series "Arrested Development" as the 14-year old son who diligently runs the bizarre family's frozen banana stand. The competition for nuttiness in the late TV show knew no bounds, and its demise is lamented by many. Fox canceled it last year.
The boy's actorly charms are wasted on Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe. "American movies generally want us to do more than like a character," he writes. "They want us to root for him. This necessitates charm, wit, humility, talent, a handsome face, something."
Even though the audience Morris saw it with was "ecstatically amused," he was not. "I was never sufficiently seduced," he says. And that is what makes horse races.
Ebert concludes, "It has that unchained air of getting away with something. In its very raunchiness, it finds truth, because if you know nothing about sex, how can you be tasteful and sophisticated on the subject?"
Denby says, "The movie succeeds as a teen's wild fantasy of a night in which everything goes wrong, revised by an adult's melancholy sense that nothing was ever meant to go right."
It runs 114 minutes, and is rated R (for pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image, all involving teens). (And, presumably, penises.)
It starts Thursday at Market Square East.

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