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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Friends Like These
by Adam Hakari

I was a dyed-in-the-wool nerd during my high school years. Parties were a myth to me, girls were even more foreign, and my social life extended to attending a small handful of school dances. Superbad, a sex-crazy and booze-soaked new comedy, may be an almost complete 180 degrees from my world in the midst of those four fateful years, but it works wonderfully because of its inclusiveness. Whether you were a lovestruck geek in high school or an object of said geek's affection, Superbad offers something for everyone to identify with and laugh at.

Superbad is the story of Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), two lifelong best friends mere weeks away from high school graduation and taking their first big step into adulthood. Before they do, the guys have a couple of things they'd like to accomplish -- namely, hooking up with some girls and finding a way to be the cool guys for once in their geektastic lives. The opportunity to do so arises when Jules (Emma Stone), Seth's long-time crush, asks him to get some alcohol for a party, one that Becca (Martha MacIsaac), the apple of Evan's eye, also plans on attending. Not wanting to miss out on being able to finally score with their crushes, Seth and Evan launch headfirst into their nightlong odyssey to land some booze and make it to the party. On their quest, they encounter a pair of dopey cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader), a fellow nerd (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who ends up having the night of his life, and the occasional car accident or two.

Those with an aversion to the profane will definitely want to steer clear of Superbad. The script, from Knocked Up star Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg, contains some of the filthiest language this side of a Kevin Smith movie, but it also shares something else in common with Clerks . Although the conversations are extremely frank and mostly revolve around the anatomy of both genders, there's a certain sweetness within the story. Seth and Evan are a couple of high school guys, each with one thing on his mind, and the filmmakers never attempt to treat them as anything more or less. These two are quite aware of their own shallow, temporary pursuits for women and alcohol, a mindset that instigates a little conflict later on and, as a result, makes the story all the more authentic.

On the surface, Superbad seems suspiciously like a superficial and immature high school flick with enough dirty jokes to fill the Grand Canyon. A little deeper digging, though, reveals the movie to be a much smarter tale of getting one's priorities straight before kissing your childhood goodbye -- a wise set of themes that aren't mercilessly pounded into the heads of its viewers.

Don't get me wrong, though; while Superbad is smarter than your average American Pie sequel, it still knows how to be flat-out funny most of the time. Yes, some of the scenes are drawn out way too long, but on the whole, Superbad nails a ton of comedic home runs during its time at bat. Hill and Cera are simultaneously sympathetic and side-splitting as the loudmouthed Seth and the more reserved Evan. Mintz-Plasse is sure to win over legions of fans as Fogell, a skinny little twerp who goes from getting a fake ID with the name "McLovin" (not even a first name, just "McLovin") to experiencing in the span of a single night more than most people will go through in their entire lives. His misadventures give a big boost to the movie's laugh factor. Rogen and Hader also shine as two cops who are as debaucherous as the teenage characters, running stoplights and getting boozed up in lieu of protecting and serving.

Like most comedies, Superbad has its ups and downs, its moments of hilarity as well as parts you just want to get over with already. But thanks to a mostly on-target sense of humor and an unexpected, yet subtle sense of poignancy, Superbad emerges as a late summer gem sure to be a cult comedy classic in years to come.

MY RATING: *** (out of ****)

(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated "R" for pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image -- all involving teens.)

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