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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

SUPERBAD (article first published : 2007-10-31)

Not since American Pie has there been a ribald youth comedy as fun, fresh and laugh-out-loud enjoyable as Superbad.

A massive success abroad, it is co-penned by Evan Goldberg and hot new comic find Seth Rogen, star of Knocked Up, who also has a supporting role here.

There’s a lot that’s unoriginal in the storyline, which revolves around two long-time, nerdy mates about to go their separate ways for college - and pinning hopes on losing their virginity at a year-end party for which they’ve been assigned to buy booze for their more popular peers.

However, what lifts this comedy way above the standard fare so prevalent in our cinemas is that it showcases well-defined, credible characters and charming performances. More importantly, though, it is graced with a witty script that very deftly combines sweetness and gross-out humour, all the time bristling with great lines and some sharply observed takes on modern sexual manners.

For all the jokes and nonsense it is, ultimately, a tale of close bonds and true friendship and the ending is a sheer delight - one of the most memorable scenes of the year, that could have come straight out of an 80s youth movie by John Hughes.

The nerdy pair pulling the focus is chubby, curly-topped opportunist Seth (Jonah Hill) and the much quieter and more sensible Evan (Arrested Development’s Michael Cera). They talk constantly about sex but have realistically resigned themselves to the fact that they will never be in with the popular guys and girls. But luck changes when the loud Seth catches wind of a popular girl holding a party, to which she invites him if he can bring booze.

Seth gets support from the more restrained Evan, who is keen to go along when he hears a classmate he has long fancied is also attending. They rope into their plan skinny and awkward-looking mutual friend Fogell (comical newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who has a fake ID card that sets him up to buy the alcohol the nerds need as a passport to pleasure.

But things go awry when Fogell ends up with two gung-ho, not-so law-abiding cops (Rogen and Saturday Night Live regular Bill Hader) and one calamity leads to another.

Rolling along on a fun retro-funk soundtrack, the film has many memorable moments – not least one involving a stain on a pair of trousers, a scene sure to prove every bit as much of a classic as the hair-gel scene from There’s Something About Mary and the apple pie shenanigans in American Pie. Rating 8/10 – Billy Suter




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