Monday, March 23, 2009


We All Need Some McLovin’!
Ivorismo Rating: ****

Superbad is fantastic. Sure, it’s raunchy. Sure, there’s a lot of discussion about sexual organs. And, sure, my wife and I got into it vis-à-vis the appropriateness of letting our eleven-year-old watch it with us. The thing of it is, it’s got that collective autobiographical thing going. It’s not just the lives of co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who named the two leads after themselves, but me forty-odd years ago and definitely millions of other once-and-future teenagers. Yeah, it fucking is fucking raunchy but in a fluent, fucking genuinely erudite fucking way. Really, it isn't the dirty words, not like some kind of American Pie-ish piece of crap; but, instead, there’s the poetry, flow and rhythm, and the deep, sad keening and braying of bright flaming youth.

The plot involves best friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), until then inseparable, soon to separate and attend different colleges. Three weeks till high school ends and they compete desperately, achingly desperately, agonizingly desperately, in a competition to lose their virginity before the looming 21 days run out. I’m glad to know that the aforesaid deprivation is still commonplace for the nerds and so-called losers. I usually feel alienated in these kinds of films because--guilty!--I was one of the jocks who did manage to get laid, although quality was never commensurate to quantity and most of my friends got none at all.

Anyway, Seth is the pudgy, kinky-haired, overtly Jewish one, while Evan is slight and thin with the sad eyes of a Holiday Inn clown painting. They also keep around a kind of jester sidekick, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is so unhip and goofy that he’s too unpopular even for them to stomach. They are in deep lust with every girl in the school, but become mute whenever any mode of extemporaneous conversation with any member of the opposite sex is required. This utter lack of ability to communicate with other humans from outside their existential bubble clashes with a commensurate encyclopedic knowledge of porn web sites dedicated to every female body part and a perplexing parallel ability to sum up an uncanny intuitive ability to describe scores of sexual fetishes. Porn: it's a hobby, like collecting sports statistics.

Amazingly, the three are invited to a party on the last 21st night by the poised, sassy popular Jules (Emma Stone), who takes her cruel time to explain that there is a price for admission. No! It’s not a B.Y.O.B. party, but B.Y.O.A.E.E. (bring your own and everybody else's).Their under aged holy grail quest to buy booze becomes the axis of the action as Fogell miraculously produces the dumbest, lame-brained ID card which claims he is "McLovin." After a series of adventures too complex and genuinely hilarious for me to get into here without ruining things, the boys discover that being the guys with access to booze is a powerful aphrodisiac. Jules is very happy to see the three friends and their brown paper bags. Evan is shocked to find that booze even gets his untouchable crush Becca (Martha MacIssac) to happily open her legs and go all the way.
Amidst all this goofiness, two cops (Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader and co-author Seth Rogen) get involved with, first, McLovin and, later, the two boys, as they drive round the city getting stoned and becoming less and less compis mentis as the night goes by. In the end, to meet the hotties, Jules and Becca, the two stoned cops decide to bust the party.

If this film sounds like a kind of more classy, more sassy update on National Lampoon's Animal House, well, that's okay. Hidden within the relentless raunchiness, however, there is the nut of a deep, dark truth. The message is unequivocal and clear. Underage drinking is bad. The filmmakers pull no punches. Kids know nothing real about sex, just like every generation before them, only different. These kids are experts on porn in its every form. Of course, this is not a subject you can be tasteful and sophisticated about. In this generation, everybody may be very well informed about sex, but rarely are they actually having it. It's like a bunch of drunken construction workers discussing middle east peace. Indeed, the kind of agony these kids go through is exhausting and agonizing. Still, the kind of adolescent sexual yearning we get here is cartoony and unrealistic. Yet, it's all okay because Superbad is hilarious. lndeed, the kind of agony the kids go through is exhausting and agonizing.

Audiences these days tend to either talk back to the movie, sit rapt, or a mixture of both. There were lots of laughs, but, surprisingly, there were also many collective gasps from the gut. Genuine moments of surprise. Greg Mottola has directed an R-rated masterpiece. If you would like to find a way to discuss drinking, drugging and sex with your kids, this movie is an awesome, ready-to-wear means of getting down to the nitty-gritty. If not, see it without them and just have a laugh.

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