...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

August 22, 2007

Superbad - 6

To the undiscerning viewer this film may seem like just another teen sex comedy like the less-than-thoughtful American Pie franchise. And while it is rated R and contains plenty of crude lauguage, a closer look at the work of Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and who was a producer on this Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg-written film) reveals Superbad as an interesting picture of our culture. And an all to accurate one at that.
The plot centers on two average high school friends and their crazy plans on how to explore their raging sexuality a few weeks before their graduation. Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) have learned what culture has told them about who they are and who they should be. They want to pursue this, but there is also something deeper holding them back. So they end up getting invited to a party and asked to bring the booze, which they convince uber-geek Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)--aka McLovin, a twenty-five year-old Hawaiian organ donor--to buy with his fake ID. The plan goes horribly wrong and the night gets progressively worse.
Eventually, they make it to the intended party and find that getting drunk and hooking up with women isn't the glamorous "meaning of life" that our culture often sets it up to be. In fact, coming to understand one's sexuality in high school turns out to be an independent study with one's close friends as the teachers. This makes for many awkward situations and conversations when the characters, niavely charging ahead- making it up as they go along.
While providing plenty of laughs and gags, the seriousness of Seth and Evan's friendship soon becomes apparent; it confronts the audience with the questions of one's identity and the friendships and committments that make us who we are. And like all of Apatow's work, the film ends with a fable-like moral: our friendships are what maintain order and intimacy amidst the overwhelming chaos and fear that often invades our relationships.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jonah Hill is still embarassingly one-note here, as he was in Knocked Up and Evan Almighty. His nature of comedy is very much tied to the frat boy style of humor, shout obscenities and flail a lot, but Michael Cera saves this film with deadpan eccentricity in his delivery. Cera's naturalistic performance lends the film its heart, and makes his relationship with the girl he's into something that's real and worthwhile, rather than Hill's grandstanding, which aggravates quickly. And McLovin is largely good here. His sex scene is quite hilarious. This film feels more truthful to me than Apatow's work, probably because the women in the film don't exhibit any qualities that feel out of character. They feel like they're being regarded as real characters, not the Madonna of Heigl's character in KU.

The coda is quite good, and supplies the film with an endearing honesty in its melancholy understanding of the fragility of proximity for friendship.