Special Review: “Superbad” – A Moving Dedication
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Shauna Robertson
Written by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Edited by: William Kerr
Cinematography by: Russ T. Alsobrook
Music by: Lyle Workman
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Emma Stone, Martha MacIsaac
I’m baaaaaaack! Sorry I haven’t written in a few weeks. The reason? I moved!
And, as always, moving brought with it a great deal of stress along with a lack of time and, mostly, energy. Then, after spending a week in my new apartment doing – well, admittedly very little, I went on a much needed vacation to visit my grandparents – my first real vacation in quite some time, as I haven’t had the chance to leave the state in many years and haven’t seen my grandparents in almost as much time. So, yeah, things have been busy, and I effectively wound up taking a bit of a hiatus from my writing hobby. But, yes, I am back, and I think I’ve sufficiently stored up enough rest to once again pick up my duties. (Haha! Gross imagery…)
Now, before I begin the official portion of my review, I figure I should give the appropriate introduction as to why I have chosen this to be my first standalone review in quite some time. You see, not only did I move to a new apartment this past month, I also had to say goodbye to my roommate of the past 6 ½ years, who also just happens to be my best friend.
Though he hasn’t really moved that far away (and, in fact, he’s now living back in our hometown, so it’s still quite possible to see him when I come down for holidays), it’s still a significant enough distance and inconvenience that we will no longer be able to hang out on a regular basis – which really sucks because in the last couple weeks we lived together, we pretty much started a short-lived tradition of making a run to Total Wine on Fridays after work to take home and try out a few craft beers while catching the Thursday night NBC lineup on Hulu, something that I already miss incredibly.
Being a military brat who was forced to face the loss of many friendships thanks to our families being subject to the usual and unsynchronized 3 years of being stationed at one base, I can’t really say that I’ve ever really had a chance to “grow up” with anyone throughout my life, save for my sister and maybe one other friend whose family got stationed at the same base we would be about a year later.
Even though we’ve only known each other since early high school, however, I can honestly say that, at least from a more introspective perspective, I’ve done the most “growing up” in the time that I have known my now-former roommate than I probably ever did before or ever would have had it not been for him. One of these days I might just breakdown emotionally and post something deep and personal on here that will explain what it was that I went through in embarrassing detail, but until that time – if it ever does happen, of course – just know that my friend was pretty much one of the biggest factors that was keeping me from falling further into what could only have been described as a terribly prolonged period of utter despair. So, yeah, he’s kind of important to me, you know?
And now, for the first time ever, I’m having to live on my own, which comes with a whole new set of anxieties and challenges. And now I am without easy access to possibly one of the best people I’ve ever known. It’s not that I don’t really have any friends where I am – it’s just that, well… none of them really compare to my best friend – hence the “best” descriptor. (Sorry, other, less adequate friends – you’re important to me, too, but admit it: you kind of already knew where you stood in my life by comparison! :-P)
So, yeah, for any of you who has seen the movie, you kind of know why, then, I chose this movie for my first standalone review after that long hiatus. (And it only has a little bit to do with the fact that my friend got me this for a Christmas present and the fact that I wanted to watch it before he left!)
Superbad came out at a time when the term “bromance” was being tossed around quite a lot in pop culture – a portmanteau that described a relationship between two or more guys who did almost everything together and really and truly loved each other – but not, you know, in a gay sort of way, dude! It’s a stupid term that’s up there with “words” like staycation, chillax, and tween that, while effectively conveying the intended information, is still incredibly stupid and makes anyone who uses it seriously sound stupid in turn. (For the record, I prefer the term “hetero-life partners.”)
The nice thing that came out of the Bromance Period, however, aside from the production of other such awesome buddy flicks like Shaun of the Dead and… and Hot Fuzz, and… Paul… (Okay, maybe not so much Paul…) was the fact that it actually succeeded in making it okay for one dude to announce that he totally and unconditionally loves his best friend, and yes, that best friend just happens to be another dude, too. Straight guys everywhere were finally able to stand up, join hands in a totally unromantic way, and roar triumphantly, “We’re totally not gay, but look at this! Deal with it, Society!”
And, apart from the later I Love You, Man, a film which can pretty much be considered the logical conclusion for the influx of bromantic comedies, or “brom-coms,” that followed in this film’s footsteps, Superbad remains the most effective of the bunch. Not only is it one of the most hilarious R-rated comedies to come out in recent years, making it perfect for a group viewing with a few beers on the side, Superbad is also anchored by a sweet and genuinely profound emotional core, too, despite the profanity and ridiculous situations that the characters get themselves into. This is all thanks to the guidance of director Greg Mottola and writers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, the latter two being the namesakes for the two leads.
Speaking of which, Superbad also came out at a time when people weren’t yet sick of Michael Cera’s nervous schtick, a time when Jonah Hill was still just the amusingly obnoxious, heavyset guy and not the Oscar-nominated thespian who inexplicably still stars in crappy Ben Stiller movies about alien invasions that he is today. (That’s okay, Jonah, you made up for it retroactively with 21 Jump Street.) Michael Cera is – well, he’s still the same timid old man in a timid young man’s body that he’s been since Arrested Development (How we all miss his more youthful days playing Noah Emmerich’s excitable son in Frequency…), but it still works here as he plays the nervous straightman to the foul, loudmouthed, and yet strangely endearing Jonah Hill.
Perhaps there’s even some glance into Jonah’s future as a competitor to Christopher Plummer’s first golden statue, even, as we’re asked to not only embrace his character’s generally offensive personality, but also feel for him when he’s at his most vulnerable. Sure, he’s kind of a prick, but he (mostly) genuinely doesn’t mean to be, and the filmmakers and actor are careful to make sure that he remains funny enough to remain likable and yet realistic and developed enough to infer some deeper issues at play without miring the film in any contrived emotional drama.
In fact, Superbad may be one of the more tonally consistent modern comedies I’ve ever seen. Hilarity is evenly distributed throughout the film, even within the infamous McLovin subplot, and it’s also refreshingly grounded in so far as it acknowledges that the characters are dumb freaking teenagers who don’t really know what they’re doing and are unprepared for the adult world that awaits them. Compare this all to crap like Project X, which rewards its characters for being, basically, the embodiment of everything that is wrong with entitled teenagers, and it’ll make you all the more appreciative for the skill with which Superbad has been made.
There’s a reason why I not only consider it to be one of my favorite comedies of all time, but also count it among the prestigious list of films that have made me cry and/or tear up consistently upon each viewing. Seriously, that drunken profession of brotherly love toward the end gets me every single freaking time. So much so that I had to break up the tension during that scene by cracking a nervous joke to keep from bawling in front of my best friend, who may or may not have thought I was being a bit overly sentimental at the time (but I don’t care). I can now honestly say that, with his then-imminent departure, I can now up the number of scenes in this film that I consider tear-inducing from 1 to 2, with that sort of nervous but hopeful departing exchange that Evan and Seth share one last time before moving on being responsible for the dust that just happened to get into my eye at that particular time.
It’s true that I would have very likely and gladly lived with my friend as hetero-life partners for the rest of my life if I had to, but I can’t help but feel a lot like Seth did in the film when I wonder if there’s anyone who will understand me quite as well and, more importantly, quite as enduringly as my best friend. The fact that I’ve really only lived on my own for a total of about 1 ½ weeks (not counting my one week vacation) after having a roommate for the better part of the past 6 ½ years (minus a few summers) has resulted in this all still not quite setting in, but I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I already miss having him around at times. Living on my own will undoubtedly have its advantages and disadvantages, but facing the fact that we’re both moving on and that that period of our lives has ended definitely still feels pretty crappy.
But, as they say, we’ll always have the memories. We’ll undoubtedly still see each other regularly on those holidays that are important enough for me to head down to visit what has definitively become my hometown. And, who knows? Maybe, like with Seth and Evan, there’s also the promise of a few actual romantic relationships on the horizon that wouldn’t have been possible had the “bromance” not given way.
Lucky for us, it’s still generally considered to be socially acceptable for guys to carry on a “bromance” even after you strike up a romantic relationship with a girl. But, dude, if you’re reading this (and why wouldn’t you be?), make sure your future wife doesn’t not like me, okay? That would suck!
The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 4 / 5