(2007) dir. Greg Mottola
viewed: 08/29/07 at AMC Van Ness 14, SF, CA
Often, I have noted how much of a complete sourpuss I am when it comes to comedies. I think most are terrible. Maybe it’s just true, the well-noted adage that “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” (attributed to the actor Sir Donald Wolfitt on his deathbed). Maybe more people should die before trying to be funny. Okay, I’m already going too far with this.
My point is that I don’t see most comedies because I think they are awful. I think their trailers are awful and I just plain don’t cotton to many of them.
That said, I do like comedies that are funny. And for some reason, when I saw the trailers for Superbad, I found it pretty funny. When it got good reviews, all the buzz and all, I decided to see it. This is a rare thing, honestly. Actually, you can probably prove that out through my viewing history. I just don’t go for movies like this too often.
Superbad is funny. I think it’s possibly the funniest film since There’s Something About Mary (1998), which is in many ways an apt comparison point regarding tastelessness and crude humor. Both of these films rely on crassness for many of their high points of humor, most memorable and big sequences. The irony is that it’s not the crassness and rough humor that makes it funny. Both of the movies are funny because they just manage to be funny, the chemistry, timing, jokes, tone, characters, everything is working. In some ways, the crass stuff is, to my mind, almost a liability. In the opening twenty minutes or so, I was starting to really wonder if Superbad was going to be funny because the crude rants by the character of Seth (actor Jonah Hill) just made me not like him and not find it funny. But then it got going and really did get funny.
I feel like a prude saying stuff like that. But oh well, it’s my genuine opinion.
Superbad comes from a creative team that is very popular right now: producer Judd Apatow and writer/actor Seth Rogan (The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) & Knocked Up (2006)). The way that the media describes Apatow’s work is that it’s potty-mouthed and crude but with a soft and mushy sentimentality and emotion that connects with the viewer. And, you know, it’s not all that untrue. Superbad‘s strengths are more about the relationship of the protagonists, Seth and Evan, the latter played with great timing and delivery by Michael Cera. I think that the film could have been a lot better playing off their relationship more and worrying less about genitalia and descriptive flourishes about sex. Seth’s character could have been drawn more deftly and made more sympathetic throughout.
In reality, despite how it may sound from my input thusfar, this movie is really funny and the characters really are the core of what makes it a fun and more interesting film. Rogan, who co-wrote the script with the real life Evan, Evan Goldberg, adds a very funny performance as one half of the goofy cop partners who want to show that cops can be “cool”.
The movie is most aptly put in the “teen comedy” movie genre and fits alongside of movies like Porky’s (1982), Sixteen Candles (1984) and Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)…there’s millions of them. The whole point of that is that looking at it from that perspective could be pretty interesting, to look at the changing culture, values, perspectives while staying within this crazy end of school feeling that teens are facing. Of course, it’s not like these movies are made by teens. They are made for them. But still. People are eating this one up.
And it’s good. It’s funny. It just makes me feel like an old prude.