Bright Lights Film Journal

Superbad: Too gay, or not gay enough?

Personally, I think it’s just wonderful if two young men want to hold hands and shout out their love for each other from the rooftops. I mean, it’s just wonderful for them to do that.

As long as they’re straight, of course. If they’re gay, not so much. I mean, come on. I saw Brokeback Mountain. That’s enough political correctness to last a man a lifetime, and in my case it’s damn well going to.

And so it goes in Superbad, the latest “geeks get pussy” vehicle from the Judd Apatow/Evan Goldberg/Seth Rogen/Greg Mottola money machine.[1] Superbad has enough evasions, contradictions, absurdities, and outright falsehoods to qualify as a policy statement from the Bush Administration. Consider the plot:

Evan (Michael Cera), who must have the most exquisite male cheekbones since the young Henry Fonda, who basically looks like Cindy Crawford’s kid brother, who, moreover, is going to Dartmouth,[2] is best buds with Seth (Jonah Hill), a blubbery, self-loathing retard who can barely squeeze his fat ass into Loser State Teacher’s College. They semi-tolerate super loser Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who’s also going to Dartmouth. (Evan plans to room with Fogell, but he won’t tell Seth that for fear of hurting his feelings.)

Because he hangs with Seth, Evan has never had a date and is never invited to any parties. It’s two weeks to graduation, and they’ve never fucking been laid, man! Seth’s misogynistic bellows of pain over his too, too protracted virginity are supposed to be funny, but they’re so ponderously, so monotonously smutty that one can’t help but wonder, over and over again, what the fuck Evan is doing chaining himself to this pathetic trashmouth.[3]

In home ec class, which they take, as Seth tells the teacher, because it’s so fucking easy so just get the fuck out of my face and give my fucking A,[4] Seth manages to get himself paired off with the ga-ga-gorgeous Jules (Emma Stone), pretty much a brunette Veronica Lake, who naturally invites him to this huge party she’s having,[5] even though, apparently, she hasn’t said a word to him in the past four years. Hey, shit happens.

Later, Evan gets lucky as well, with his personal dream girl Becca (Martha MacIssac).[6] She’s going to Jules’ party too! And she wants to see Evan there! Think it can’t get any cooler? Think again! Jules gives $100 cash to buy booze for the party! She wants it! She wants it! This chick is just begging for a cum bath! Oh yeah!

The boys are so excited they run right out of math class, where the teacher hasn’t even finished explaining how “i” can be used to symbolize the square root of negative one![7] They’re that pumped!

Well, all kinds of shit goes down before the boys actually make it to the party with the booze. Seth gets hit by a car, twice (this is probably the funniest part), plus they get hassled by some wild-ass cops, and also poor Seth also gets some menstrual blood on his leg, which definitely could happen. When they do get to the party, Becca is totally wasted and totally dying to get it on with Evan (where has she been for the last four years?), plus this other totally hot chick is totally wasted and totally dying to get it on with Fogell (where has she been for the last four years?),[8] even though earlier, in this kind of embarrassing moment, Evan has to admit to Seth that he and Fogell will be rooming together at Dartmouth.[9] Naturally, Evan doesn’t get laid (Fogell gets his dick wet but doesn’t actually climax, if I interpreted things correctly). As for Seth, it turns out that Jules is not wasted, so, no, she’s really up for either a pearl necklace or a little teabagging. Damn!

None of this makes any sense, but a surprising amount of it is funny. So, yes, Superbad has enough evasions, contradictions, absurdities, and outright falsehoods to qualify as a policy statement from the Bush Administration. But, unlike the Bush Administration, it won’t kill you, torture you, or throw you in jail for the rest of your life for filling out an application form And that’s a good thing.

I won’t resist pointing out that this film perpetuates what I have previously dubbed the denippleization of American cinema. (For earlier discussions, see here and here.) While some reviewers have compared this film to Porkys, sadly, it is not about seeing girls naked in the shower.[10] Those days are gone.

[1] Apparently, these guys all knew each other or blew each other in high school. Most or all of them worked on the Freaks and Geeks cult failure TV series that I slapped around a couple of years ago. Freaks and Geeks only lasted one season, but in the past few years these guys have been rolling in the bucks with R-rated raunch fests like Ron Burgundy, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up.
[2] To Dartmouth, where he will devote most of his waking hours to “booting” (chugging a couple of beers and then jumping up and down until he pukes) and then go on to make millions of dollars writing for TV.
[3] There is a riff about penis drawing that’s pretty funny. If you’re into penises, hang around at the closing credits, because they pop up again.
[4] It’s been a long time since I’ve been in high school, but somehow I don’t see any teacher putting up with that kind of rap, least of all from a dumb, fat, white boy.
[5] Evan, in the meantime, is paired off with this cute little Asian kid, and they make a perfect trifle together. (I’m pretty sure it’s a trifle; it’s got fucking ladyfingers, for Christ’s sake.) They also engage in a little face-painting, which is definitely a macho thing to do, when you’re five. Is this fucking subtext?
[6] Both Becca and Jules look, and act, like 25-year-old super models, except that occasionally Becca gets just a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty. I’m thinking, mood swing.
[7] Plus, he never even gets to tell them that i raised to the ith power has an infinite number of values! And they’re all real, man! CHECK IT OUT! (Note that Cliff lists i to the ith as only his fourteenth favorite transcendental number, go figure, and only lists one value. For more, check out e: The Story of a Number, by Eli Maor, pp. 178-179.)
[8] But if these chicks were so hot to trot, why did they not wear front-hook bras? The lack of attention to detail here is disturbing.
[9] “Why do we have to hide our relationship?” asks Fogell. Surprisingly, he and Evan do not end up shouting out their love from the rooftops.
[10] OK, that was an awfully cheap shot. Porkys was a pretty damn lousy movie. Superbad, I must admit, is better than Porkys.