Monday, January 14, 2008


I finally got around to viewing the latest installment of the never-ending saga of teenage outcasts trying to score at the last big party before the end of high school, also known as last summer's box office hit Superbad. There's a lot to like about it. For one, it features Michael Cera playing essentially the same character that he did in Arrested Development. I don't know if he's being typecast, but even if he is, I think it will still be a while before I'm sick of George Michael Bluth. Like all of Judd Apatow's work, there's some great dialog. A good rule of thumb that I have for measuring the quality of dialog-driven comedy is the number of scenes where characters are having a conversation about something that I've never heard anyone discuss before but as soon the conversation starts, I want to jump into the scene and start discussing it with them. Great dialog-drive humor is constructed out of observations that seem incorrect or ridiculous at first glance but unearth a truth about some part of human existence, preferably in the most juvenile or profane way possible. I can't think of any great examples of this technique from Superbad off the top of my head. I would like to memorize the monologue that Jonah Hill's character rattles off to his home ec teacher in the beginning of the movie and try it out at a local open mic night, however.

Hill had some great lines and pulled off some good physical comedy, but I thought his character was a just a bit to manic. That's a fairly minor detail, but the thing that really bothered me about the movie was how much time was devoted to the police officers and McLovin subplot. The concept was excellent but it wound up being a distraction after a while. It didn't help that the cops were completely nuts from the start. The movie mined most of the humor out of their unorthodox approach to law enforcement early, so it wasn't too hard to be shocked as they upped the ante as the night went on. If you can only see one of Apatow's films from last summer, I'd recommend Knocked Up, but either one will easily satisfy any juvenile humor fix you might be craving.

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