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‘Superbad' not nearly as extreme as name implies

Published: August 17, 2007
Sometimes you have to make a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to movies. This is certainly the case with "Superbad,” which gives the viewer much to laugh at (even if you're a bit ashamed of yourself for laughing) but fails to build a movie structure to support the entire enterprise's worth.

Produced by Judd Apatow (the burgeoning comedy tycoon behind "Knocked Up” and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin” as well as the short-lived TV classics "Freaks and Geeks” and "Undeclared”), "Super-bad” follows a similar formula to his previous films: rampant vulgarity combined with an underlying sentimentality.

Greg Mottola ("The Daytrippers”) handles the directing duties this time from a script by "Knocked Up” star Seth Rogen and his longtime friend Evan Goldberg; it's a screenplay the pair began writing in their teens. It follows a path similar to films such as "American Pie,” detailing some somewhat geeky high school seniors determined to rid themselves of their virginity before heading off to college.

The key to the plan is obtaining alcohol for a girl's party in hopes that out of drunken gratitude, their dreams will be fulfilled. As Seth (Jonah Hill) tells best friend Evan (Michael Cera), everyone has heard stories of girls saying the night after a raucous party that they don't know who they did what with. "We could be that mistake,” he declares.

What saves "Superbad” from being a complete misfire is the energy of the actors and the hilarity of the best gags, though they can't completely overcome a running time of nearly two hours that allows the film to falter at times.

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Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

(Pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image -- all involving teens)


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