You’d imagine that most 14-year-old boys feel the same way about sex comedies as they do about each of their battled-for baby steps toward the big deed itself—it doesn’t matter if it’s any good, the point is that they’re getting some. About a decade ago, though, budding horndogs Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg allegedly became fed up with the subpar antics of their cinematic counterparts. Fuck this noise, they thought. We can do better.
And today you have Superbad, a movie to be filed under “ribald,” whose script started out as a seed in two boys’ dirty minds. Of course, the final product has gone through polishings and fleshings-out since its first wobbly-legged drafts, informed by the writers’ subsequent experience (Goldberg writing scripts for Da Ali G Show; Rogen starring in such Judd Apatow productions as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up) and maturity (though a certain period joke might have been in the original). If you’re not familiar with the R-comedy magic previously created by King Apatow and his court, Superbad sounds August-unexceptional: Two high-school seniors, thus far none too popular with the ladies, try to score some alcohol for a hottie’s party. They’ve been accepted to different colleges, so the best friends are thinking it’s gonna be their last big blowout. The ultimate goal? Duh: to get laid.
But audiences who’ve laughed their asses off at Rogen’s other work will be pleased to know that the Greg Mottolandirected Superbad is not just another teen movie. At 25, Rogen wisely deemed himself too old to star—even though he and Goldberg named the characters after themselves—but found a worthy surrogate in Jonah Hill, whose bawdy, loud-mouthed, obnoxious-if-he-weren’t-so-funny turn as Seth is the ’00s Bluto Blutarsky. Michael Cera is the straight man as Seth’s awkward friend Evan, an extension of Cera’s awkward George-Michael Bluth from the celebrated but canceled TV series Arrested Development.
Seth and Evan spend most of their time moaning about their lack of action—Evan pines over one particular sweetheart, Becca (Martha MacIsaac), while Seth is happy to fixate on girls in general, especially ones who “look like they can take a dick.” So when the sexy Jules (Emma Stone) improbably invites Seth to her party, he’s determined to become the booze-bringing life of it. Enter Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who’s so nerdy that even Seth considers him “the fucking anti-poon.” But, he’s got a fake ID, and even though it’s a terrible one (stating that Fogell is actually the one-named, 25-year-old Hawaii resident “McLovin”), it’ll have to do. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t.
Superbad tosses its hopeless antiheroes into some fantastically ridiculous situations as they make their way to said party, including Fogell’s adventures with a couple of cops (Rogen and Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader) and Seth’s and Evan’s rather more disturbing run-in with a potential pedophile (“So, you guys on MySpace?”) and his psychotic but alcohol-holding friends. Together, the main characters riff on typical Apatow topics—the production values of porn, say, or how unfair it is that women can show off their boobs but guys have to hide their boners. The dialogue is at times overwhelmingly hyperactive, though Hill’s wild-eyed and -haired mania is more difficult to settle in to than Cera’s dry, soft-spoken Bob Newhartnisms. As with any solid teen comedy, Superbad isn’t just about getting loaded and lucky, with the duo’s friendship and impending separation—because of school and, God willing, just maybe because of girlfriends—anchoring the story. The filmmakers don’t always handle the material’s tonal transitions smoothly, especially the friends’ abrupt if inevitable blowup. But then they offer yet another inspired dick joke—and as any 14-year-old will tell you, sometimes that’s what really counts.