I have this horrible feeling that Apatow and Rogen peaked with The 40 Year Old Virgin. Now that the powers that be have decided that they produce box office gold, their projects seem to be coming thick and fast. I’ve already mentioned the disappointment of Knocked Up, and now comes Superbad, co-written (and co-starring) Seth Rogen, and produced by Judd Apatow. It’s apparently one of the first scripts Rogen wrote, so it should come as no surprise that the quality isn’t anywhere near the other two films.
I mainly wanted to see this film for Michael Cera (George Michael from ‘Arrested Development’), and whilst he is easily the best part of Superbad, there’s only so much he can do in such a limp film. It’s effectively another gross-out comedy about teenagers wanting to get laid, but doesn’t really have the charm of American Pie. Best mates Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Cera) are on the cusp of leaving high school (and each other) as they go off to separate colleges, so the film focuses on what will effectively be their last hurrah. They set out to get the girls of their dreams, and get diverted rather regularly along the way.
The main problem is that this comedy isn’t very funny. The gross-out humour is for the most part dull, occasionally offensive, and most of the funnier moments feel like they are ad-libs rather than scripted. Cera gets lumped with the (rather slim) moral conundrums, whilst Hill gets to revel in simply being crude. Newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse does a great job as ultra-dorky Fogell, and Seth Rogen’s ‘cameo’ stretches out into a whole lot more as he and fellow police officer Bill Hader have a wild night of their own.
The girls are of course purely objects, though the film doesn’t actually paint them in as a favourable light as American Pie et. al. did. In many testosterone-fuelled gross-out comedies the females are portrayed as sensible (if objectified) beings, sometimes oblivious to the sexual scheming of their single-minded male counterparts. In Superbad, Martha MacIsaac plays Becca, who seems to make just as many mistakes as the boys. I’m not really suggesting that it’s a positively liberating role, but it does seem to balance out the sexes a little more than previous films of this ilk have.
The overwhelmingly positive response this film has received is ridiculous (it’s currently in IMDb’s top 250!!!). Superbad is an amiable time waster, but more likely to cause boredom or offence than laughter.Rating: