Published Aug 07, 2013In the pantheon of high-school movies depicting an unforgettable night in the lives of its young characters, Superbad stands alongside only Dazed and Confused in how easily it can be enjoyed over and over again. Aside from being a riotously crass and uncomfortably perceptive comedy, it also accurately demonstrates how the tight relationships through this transitional stretch can make the pains of adolescence bearable.
Childhood friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are just a few weeks away from graduating, with plans to attend different colleges in the fall. Seth is loud and obnoxious and Evan is more reserved, but they both long to satisfy the primal urges of their raging hormones by getting laid before they finally go their separate ways. For Seth, this means trying to get Jules (Emma Stone) drunk enough at her party to make some headway, while Evan hopes to close the deal with his crush, Becca (Martha MacIsaac).
After Seth and Evan's nerdy acquaintance, Fogel (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), gets assaulted while buying the necessary alcohol with his fake ID, bearing the conspicuously solitary name of "McLovin'," he finds himself on a joyride with a couple of freewheeling cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader). This leaves Seth and Evan scrambling to locate some booze by any means necessary so they can get to the party and end their sexually frustrating high school years on a high note.
The assured script by Rogen and his own childhood friend Evan Goldberg, having been honed by the pair for over a decade, is rife with memorable lines and inspired comic scenes. Whether it's Evan being forced into an impromptu rendition of "These Eyes" due to a case of mistaken identity, Seth's desperate attempts to clean "period blood" off his pants after dancing with the wrong girl or McLovin's drunken misadventures with the irresponsible police, all of the plot threads are individually amusing before coming together in a satisfying fashion.
True to the ethos of producer Judd Apatow's brand of comedy, the raunchy humour that distinguishes the movie is grounded in a central friendship that feels genuine, thanks in no small part to the subtle work of Cera and a break-out turn from Hill. It understands that, aside from being fertile ground for dick jokes, a bond like the one between Seth and Evan is a valuable part of growing up that all too often falls by the wayside once adulthood begins to encroach.
These are the experiences of people during this period that will not only be remembered forever but also inform the tastes and sensibilities of who they will eventually become. The Blues Brothers screens as part of the TOGA! The Reinvention of the American Comedy retrospective at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on August 8th, 2013 at 9pm. (Sony)