- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2007

If you’re drooling with delight at the thought of another picture from Judd Apatow, the writer-director behind laugh-laden “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” we should just get this out of the way right now: He’s merely a producer on “Superbad.”

He leaves the directing to Greg Mottola (“The Daytrippers”), and the script comes from Mr. Apatow’s longtime collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. They wrote this when they were, oh, 13.

Which gets us to the point: This isn’t another “Wedding Crashers,” a smart-dumb comedy that played well among the post-college set. It’s more like “American Pie” — a younger, less intelligent cousin.

“Superbad” focuses on two not-so-suave high school seniors (often acting more like 13-year-olds), whose only goal appears to be getting drunk and, um, getting lucky before they leave for college. The humor is crude; the references to genitalia are bountiful; and the swearing, well, it’s enough to make a mom pull out her Lifebuoy.

Maybe the filmmakers think it’s all a hoot, but it’s a risky move and may seriously limit the film’s appeal among more mature audiences.

Counteracting this a bit is the film’s biggest success: capturing the ethos of the teenagers who don’t fall into the “cool kids” category. Beneath their foulmouthed exteriors, leads Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), along with their four-eyed buddy Fogell (fine first-timer Christopher Mintz-Plasse), are just a bunch of geeks striving for hipness and happiness — and who among us hasn’t felt that way at some point in our lives?

All the film’s action takes place over the course of one day. We see Seth and Evan at school, collectively enduring a laundry list of humiliations, from getting spit on to being outshone in soccer practice. There’s a glimmer of hope, however, when a hot babe invites Seth to a party at her house later.

Can Seth get her booze? Sure, no sweat — their pal Fogell has just scored a fake ID.

One problem: Fogell’s decided to adopt the moniker “McLovin” on the fudged license and, uh, this dweeb doesn’t exactly look like Barry White’s paler-skinned, 25-year-old alter-ego.

The guys try it anyway, though, because it’s their only hope.

While waiting for Fogell outside the liquor store, trouble finds Seth and Evan, and by the time they check on their beer boy, he’s being interrogated by two police officers. Busted.

The duo steals away, taking alcohol-related matters into their own hands and landing at a “big kids” party on the way, where beverages — and the potential to be pulverized — lurk.

What the two don’t realize is that Fogell was being questioned about a robbery at the store, not his ID, and somehow, he’s miraculously won over the two idiot cops (played with perfect “Reno 911!” flair by Seth Rogen and Bill Hader). They even offer to give him a ride to his party. How awesome is that?

These officers seem oddly familiar. Oh yeah; they’re just grown-up versions of Fogell, desperate to prove their manliness as much as possible (brandishing guns at the sight of a man yelling in a bar) and even more desperate for companionship and acceptance.

This subplot is gold, delivering the film’s most grown-up laughs and giving the flick more depth.

If you can sit through the rest of “Superbad’s” dirty jokes, you’ll find out whether everyone makes it to the party OK and what happens next. And you’ll likely fall into one of two camps: those who think this film is “Super,” and those who think it’s just “bad.”

***

TITLE: “Superbad”

RATING: R (pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image, all involving teens)

CREDITS: Directed by Greg Mottola. Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

WEB SITE: www.areyousuperbad.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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