Superbad (***½)

Posted on August 1st, 2007 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

Before going to see Superbad ask yourself if you are offended by crude sexual humor, crude language, underage drinking, underage sex, underage smoking, male bonding, funky geeks, or penile oeuvres. And if you think you might be, ask yourself this: could put up with them in order to see a movie that will have you snorting your soda out of your nose with laughter?? And also ask yourself if you could put up with them if they are not the point of the film (as they are in the vast majority of “teen sex comedies”) but instead are necessary to the plot, because the plot revolves around two male graduating high-school seniors, and those things define their lives?

And also know that the film actually has a message hidden beneath the teen hijinks plot. Not a message that bludgeons you over the head, but a simple and sweet message about being friends and becoming adults. It’s sometimes hard to see the sweetness through the crudity, but then that’s the paradox of all young men on the verge of adulthood, which this film captures perfectly.

The movie focuses on two lifelong friends who are facing the last few days of high school together. They’ve gotten into different colleges and so are facing the prospect of a drastic and unwanted change in their lives. They also both want to get girlfriends for the summer – one (Seth) so that he’ll be good at sex before he hits college, the other (Evan) because he really likes a particular girl. The focus of their goals is a graduation party where both girl-targets will be in attendance, and each couple has engaged in some awkward-teen flirting during the school day prior to the party that night.

The boys have another friend, Fogell, who is the ultimate total geek. And even though neither Seth nor Evan are particularly suave or smooth, they look like James Bond and Cary Grant when compared to Fogell. But Fogell has a trump card – he has gotten a fake ID. Seth’s target-girl Jules thinks that Seth will be bringing the booze for the party she’s hosting, and the three boys quest to acquire and deliver the alcohol is the crux of the movie.

Their quest is complicated by the fact that Fogell’s fake ID shows his name simply as “McLovin” – no first name. When asked why he picked that name, Fogell states that they let you pick any name when you get down there, and he was stuck between “Muhammad” and “McLovin”. By the end of the film the name “McLovin” has muscled its way into the American patois and I predict will forever be used to refer to geeks, with the implication that they will flower into intelligent, successful, sensitive men (as geeks usually do, take note teen girls). It’s nice to see geeky dorks getting a cool archetype – thus is the genius of ‘McLovin’.

Fogell/McLovin gets involved in a liquor store robbery and ends up in the company of two friendly cops. Seth and Evan think Fogell has been arrested and so go off on their own search for alcohol, with the lack of a fake ID now increasing the degree of difficulty. Suffice it to say that hilarity ensues.

Running through the film is a slightly deeper story. Seth and Evan have been lifelong friends and always planned to go to college together – heterosexual life partners, to steal a phrase from Jay and Silent Bob. But Evan got into Dartmouth and Seth didn’t – he got into “State” (where the girls are half as smart and so twice as likely to “fellashe” him). Fogell has also gotten into Dartmouth, and he and Evan are planning to be roommates, but Evan doesn’t want Seth to know that part as he thinks it will hurt his feelings.

During their quest, Seth and Evan have a falling out, but all is bittersweetly resolved by the final frame. Oh, a word about the end credits. Stay. Take my word for it.

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