While "Superbad" does not live up to its name, neither does it truly distinguish itself from many other high school coming of age movies.
A collaboration of producer Judd Apatow and stars Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, the men behind smash hits "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," "Superbad" features the talent to be a much better film. While very funny at times, it ultimately falters on many of the points that made the actors and writers' previous efforts so good.
Seth (Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are misfit best friends two weeks away from high school graduation. Situated on the fringe of the cool crowd, the pair are neither shunned nor totally accepted by many of their classmates.
Seth has only one goal before college: for both he and Evan to lose their virginity. So when they are invited by Jules (Emma Stone) to a blowout graduation party, Seth sees a perfect opportunity to get a hot girl drunk and become "that mistake."
After the party invite, Seth is wrangled into buying the party's alcohol with the help of his friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who has a fake ID. Only after agreeing, does Seth actually see Fogell's fake ID, which looks perfectly legitimate except for the name: McLovin. Backed into a corner, the trio has no choice but to proceed with their plan and use the obviously fake license.
Fogell ends up getting a ride in the back of a police car with two very clueless officers (Rogen and Bill Hader). Moneyless and running out of time, Seth and Evan proceed on a dangerous and occasionally funny trek across the city in pursuit of alcohol. Along the way, the friends must also deal with the fact that they are moving to different colleges, which is, in the end, the movies downfall.
"Superbad" is a movie stuck in the middle. At its very core, it is a story about two friends facing separation for the first time and their different reactions to the emotions that accompany growing up. But it is also a gross-out comedy about high school boys and their need for sex.
Apatow and Rogen are normally geniuses at walking that very thin line that joins two such ideas, but in "Superbad," for the first time, they falter. In this instant, they would have been much better off going all the way one way or anther.
Anyone who has had to move away from best friends can relate to the emotions Seth and Evan experience, but those emotions are never explored enough to make the audience care. They both come off as people you really don't like and don't want to see succeed.
Strangely, McLovin and his cop pals are the only characters you ever connect with. McLovin is believable as the low man on the totem pole, barely cool enough to hangout with Seth and Evan. You can understand the reasons for his actions. And though McLovin's story is absurd, it also by far the funniest with Mintz-Plasse, Rogen and Hader getting gut busting laughs from the audience.
Crude to an extreme, "Superbad" is good for a few quick, meaningless laughs, but nothing more. Destined to have a cult following in high school and college, "Superbad" is not awful, nor is it as good as it could be. For the first time, funnymen Apatow and Rogen fail to get it completely right. Years from now, they may look back on "Superbad" as "that mistake."
"Superbad" is rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image - all involving teens. It has a running time of 114 minutes.