Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Snap Judgement: Superbad

I've always figured the big difference between going to high school now and when I attended not so long ago would be the cell phones. The enormous amount of time and energy my friends and I spent tracking each other down to coordinate the who, what and where of our weekend nights (and to coordinate the coordination) would have been reduced to moments on the fly if we all had the hand-held communication devices of today. With the time saved, I would have left high school a far superior video game player.

So it was like they had me in mind when Superbad opened with a cellphone conversation. The topic of discussion was of the other phenomena that didn't exist in the near past of my teenage years, but is now ubiquitous and perfectly in-step with the high school lifestyle: Internet pornography.

Although, after the updates in the first scene, there is almost nothing in Superbad that couldn't have taken place when I was a Walt Whitman Viking, or in the celluloid world of teen sex comedies -- such as American Pie or Fast Times at Ridgemont High -- of summer's yore.

In the latest version, the three less-than-popular protagonists decide the best way to end their secondary school dry spell is to ply their fantasy girls with mankind's favorite social lubricant.

Their journey for alcohol takes on an almost search for the ring type intensity, and much of the movie is spent in action adventure mode as three boys on a quest to be the heroes of Friday night encounter vicious thieves, playful cops, jealous boyfriends and sentimental but tuneless cocaine snorters.

They eventually succeed, but their brief moment of house party super-stardom ends with a cautionary message concerning booze that would be right at home in an after-school special.

Still, everything finally works out, and, like in all of the genre, this is a sweet, good natured film.

And a very funny film, although most of the best set pieces had been pre-released through Youtube. A marketing technique that -- while clearly responsible for Superbad's huge first week haul -- does take away from the actual in-theater viewing.

Superbad is also a lot less raunchy than those clips led me to believe. I guess in this age of Internet flesh and discussion of Internet flesh, a movie is not going to be able to sustain the audiences interest with dirty talk or glimpses of Phoebe Cates emerging (NSFW in a 1982 way) topless from a swimming pool.

Check it out, if just for the acting of Michael Cera, who, at 19, can already be described as the Marlon Brando of awkward pauses and nervous improvisation.

But don't worry if you miss it. They will be making movies just like Superbad long after high school kids are able to get the latest scoop on Friday night's goings on through a computer chip implanted in their brain.

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