Monday, November 05, 2007



RUNTIME: 114 min.
RATING: ****

Ever wonder how vulgar and sweet could be used to describe the same thing. Try Superbad. It’ll probably force you to. This isn’t a teen sex comedy where the characters’ awareness-levels make you wonder if they ever, for a moment, read or watch anything other than porn. Not that these guys don’t have the same cravings; they very much do but they are capable of remarking that it is sad that the Coen brothers don’t make porn. The movie is bound to be spoken of in the same breath as the American Pie movies, a comparison borne more out of lack of frame of reference more than anything else. For one Superbad is a million times smarter, funnier, loving and most importantly profane. It doesn’t put a naked female object to parade dumbness and lack of humor (a trait I very much attribute to American Pie movies); it just uses a hell of a lot of dialogues to crack bagsful of laughter. On a scale, it is nearer to Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Dazed and Confused than anything else. And yeah, hell of a lot of funnier than the latter.
And yeah, it transpires during a single day, just like the latter. Seth (Jonah Hill, Knocked Up) and Evan (Arrested Development) are two contrasting horny teenage geeks hell bent on losing their virginity before they’re all set for college. Though they’re best friends, they’re attending different colleges. And they get the opportunity to get all set when a Home Education crush Jules (Emma Stone) bestows Seth with the responsibility of alcohol for her party. Then there’s the third geek, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is so unpopular that he is disliked even among the three of them. I wonder how much of an achievement it is to be so geeky that you’re an outsider even among the geek community. But this outsider comes up with what would be the geek-band’s trump card for alcohol – a fake ID. The movie ensues as the raunch explodes full blast during the rest of the night.
The dialogues, especially the one-liners depicting the bodily parts, are consistently humorous and occasionally over-the-top hilarious. Imagine Quentin Tarantino making a high-school movie, and Superbad has the dialogues which would be very much what QT would come up with. Funny and referential. The profanity isn’t just for the sake of it; it shows the angst and desperation of the high school nerds who have just been spent on porn never having experienced the real deal. Not a joke seems out of place with the characters; most times laughs are generated solely by the anticipation by how a particular character will react, especially Seth. I was absolutely in splits when Seth finds that dorky Fogell with his fake ID as just a single name printed on it – McLovin. Fogell says – “They let you pick any name you want when you get down there.” Seth shoots back – “And you landed on McLovin.” Fogell, not exactly realizing the tone of Seth – “Yeah, it was between that or Muhammad.” Seth blasts – “Why the F*** would it be between THAT or Muhammad? Why don't you just pick a common name like a normal person?” Fogell, commands all his wisdom and remarks – “Muhammad is the most commonly used name on Earth. Read a fucking book for once.” And Seth turns the other way to explode on the other side. This is the sort of lines, which I call contextual humor, that lace the entire film.
This seems very much like an autobiographical film, with co-writer Seth Rogen (the man behind and in Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin) mirroring himself in Seth’s character. I guess high school films, especially the good ones like Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused have more of a probability of being autobiographical in nature. Among all the profane humor, there is that touch of sadness and nostalgia creeping in. The movie is sometimes very original. And rarely do teen SEX comedies have such likable characters. These aren’t your usual clich├ęd dorks; I can see them grow up into respectable people who would laugh their high school shenanigans off. Fogell, especially devoid of true friends, finds two of them in two in-adept cops who for all their looks mirror Seth and Evan. If the writing is good, the performances even more so. I’ll be looking forward for more of Jonah Hill; he just elevates the lines to another level. I hear fresh from school Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the new sensation of town, with everybody wearing an “I am McLovin” T-shirt. The females too, aren’t exactly what they have been the past few years in such films – simple sex objects devoid of any personality or vulnerability. Though the screen time isn’t a measure of their depth, they do come across as characters you would feel for, characters you would wonder as tow hat is in their mind. These aren’t just blonde bombshell high school pampered queens; they’re very much susceptible to folly and embarrassing situations. And I just love the motto of Seth – “You know when you hear girls say 'Ah man, I was so shit-faced last night, I shouldn't have f***ed that guy?' We could be that mistake!”
I had forgotten that the teen sex comedies could also have characters that one could identify with. Yes, one doesn’t need to attend high school in the United States to identify with these superbad dorks. All the qualification you need is to have been a guy during some or the other point in your life. Guys don’t boast of too many personal moments one could get moist-eyed about; all we’ve learnt is to deal with everything, absolutely everything, with a punch of humor. We, in our most personal moments, revel in personal attack where nobody can take offense. And humor is the best way to deal with anything, absolutely anything. And, for that, no freaking superbad guy has any need to take lessons from Clint Eastwood. It comes natural. (And there I resist myself from going into the Superbad mode.)
Meanwhile, it will suffice to say that Superbad is destined to be remembered with the same love and nostalgia I guess is reserved for Dazed and Confused and American Graffiti. And its dialogues, I guess, ought to be memorized.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dialogues to be memorized? yeah of course cuz throughout the entire movie all Seth ever said was the f-word! I did not in the least find it hilarious, just a run-of-the-mill geek-wannabes movie...although the arrested development guy is pretty good at the characters he generally plays..