Academic Writing

Thursday, August 23, 2007



I heard someone refer to Superbad as the movie American Pie wanted to be. That is a pretty accurate description for this male-driven teen "get sex and booze" movie. The premise revolves around Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), two best friends who have one last party to attend before splitting up and leaving for college. Their goal: have sex with the girl's they've been crushing on since kindergarten and to get alcohol for them. The result: two hours of (hilariously) awkward interactions. Awkwardness was what writers Seth Rogan (Knocked Up) and Evan Goldberg was going for. The zany and bizarre situations generally cause laugh out loud reactions from the audience.

What is interesting about this movie, however, is that despite it's seeming premise that these two guys are on the prowl for women and having the ultimate connection with them, they are really searching for a way back to each other. Seth and Evan (characters, not writers) have been best friends for life and when Evan heads over to Dartmouth for college, it will be the first time he and Seth have something they can't share. Ultimately, the climactic love scene is between the two boys as they are about to fall asleep in Evan's blanket. They express their love for one another, not for the women they just spent 12 hours trying to impress. In that sense, this is an ultimate buddy flick rather than a teenage sex romp. Ultimately, it seems as though sex isn't all that interesting to these kids. When given the chance, none of them could really deliver, for whatever reason. Girls are the cause of anxiety - not to mention the actual sex. Aside for the threat of STDs, remember Rogan's last movie when he had sex. He was stuck with a girl who didn't really like him and child he never wanted. Sex is a scary thing for people living in the 21st century. Most people having it are having it with multiple partners and are doing it before being in a committed relationship where trust is involved. All of that anxiety seemed to seep out of the characters and onto the screen, thus making the boy on boy emotional explosion, even if awkward, a lot safer.

Superbad also features Bill Hader and Seth Rogan as Officer Slater and Officer Michaels, rebellious cops who are missing their own teenage years, so rather than busting one of Seth's friends for using a fake ID to get the coveted liqueur, they embrace him, taking him on an adventure of their own. The use presence of cops as the authority figures in this movie is quite interesting because usually in High School-based movies the school's administrators are called upon to look like fools. Superbad take that to the next level by depicting actual police officers as the fools, rendering Principals and the like obsolete. Why this decision was made is unknown, but it seems to be saying that as a society our high schoolers have left the realm of school pranks, and have ventured into actual law-breaking. This is a throwback to the days of James Dean and the Juvenile Delinquents of the 1950s. In those days school figures were absent and it was the incompetent legal authorities who were made to be fools. (Remember Office Krupkee, or even Officer Obie?) Officers Slater and Michaels are made to look like fools, but an important difference is that they themselves were rebellious teenagers and tried to work within the law, but even as adults they continue to be rebellious, they weren't able to reform. Our legal system cannot work if the people inside of it aren't dedicated. At least from the decades gone by while the cops were morons, they were dedicated to upholding the law, that is not the case with Superbad.

The dialogue isn't all that impressive, tending to rely on raunchy and crude language rather than clever lines, but that's okay, it's funny nonetheless. This movie isn't looking to win any awards or to go down in history as a film that made a difference in society, rather as a 2 hour return to the horrible teenage years that when you look back at how awkward it was, all you can do is laugh.

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