With Judd Apatow’s comedy crusade in full swing thanks to Knocked Up, it’s only a matter of time before his gentle, geeky characters nuzzle up to a popular backlash—quite possibly from Apatow’s blind spot, women. So call these the salad days, with Superbad the peak of Dorkus primus. Certainly as long as there are movies, there will be precollegiate summer-of-getting-laid romps involving the acquisition of beer, babes and, ultimately, wisdom. But even the gang from Revenge of the Nerds will appear Rat Pack–ready compared with Superbad’s sweaty squad: mouth-breather Seth (Hill), intense, anemic Evan (Cera) and their awkward third wheel, a bespectacled wanksta named Fogell (Mintz-Plasse), a.k.a. “McLovin.”
Of course, their exploits—which transpire over one night—are adorably awkward. (The cowriters are childhood friends Evan Goldberg and Knocked Up’s Seth Rogen; note those first names.) This is comedy of a liberating nature, about the various indignities that coolness always requires, be it drunkenly smacking your head into an interested girl’s face or befriending a group of basement cokeheads who insist that you sing soul music. When Superbad pokes funs at that pointlessness, it’s endearing. Beyond the central bickering trio, though, there are gauzy areas, such as a pair of clueless cops and the usual lust objects. Perhaps it’s best to regard this movie as it sees itself: a drunken, inept, parking-lot joyride set to Van Halen’s “Panama,” 20 years after that song was cool. Was it ever cool? Aw yeah.
Cast and crew
Joe Lo Truglio