Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007)

Unless you're living under a rock in the US, you can't help but have heard all the rave reviews for Superbad, the Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg scripted teen comedy about two high school seniors (Michael Cera - although always George Michael Bluth to me - and Jonah Hill) who want to get drunk and laid. By all accounts, this movie is the be-all and end-all of comedies this year, the funniest thing since, well, Knocked Up. But just like I was the feminist wet blanket to that movie, I'd like to offer another perspective on Superbad.

Let me get this out of the way first: Superbad is funny. Not consistently hilarious, but funny enough that it definitely warrants a theater viewing. But it's also incredibly problematic, not to mention not nearly as original as most reviewers say it is. The teen movie formula is rigidly in place here, as two geeky young men want to get laid by beautiful girls. In fact, when I think about it, there isn't really anything new here at all. The jokes are way more raunchy and the dialogue a bit more witty (although sometimes, as my brilliant friend Melanie pointed out, too much so - what two teenage boys make references to Orson Welles in conversation?), but it's as old-fashioned as they come. Michael Cera is quite good as Evan, the smart friend who's going to Dartmouth in the fall and is quietly cute/nerdy. He's nervous about everything, which is both endearing and real. Jonah Hill, as Seth (the writers even named the characters after themselves), yells practically every line he has, which definitely grated on me after a while. Why is everything so screamingly important to him? Maybe it's my experience, never having been a teenage boy, but getting laid RIGHT THIS MOMENT was never that big of a deal to me.

And that's where the movie lost me. Not only did their quest seem a little silly, but I definitely felt alienated by the movie. Not in an immediate sense, but afterward, it was clear that this movie is not for me. Everything is for guys, from the cop bitter about his "bitch" (who ends up being a prostitute) ex-wife to the getting menstrual blood on your pants from dancing with a girl on her period (which would probably never happen, by the way). There's something intangible about the film that left me distinctly feeling like I was on the outside, looking in. That's not to say (I want to make this clear) that I didn't find the movie funny or that all women will feel this way, but I didn't love it like I loved The 40 Year-Old Virgin, another male-centric dirty comedy that didn't feel as alienating.

As my friend Melanie said again, I don't want to be the feminist who angrily declares "That's not funny!", but I just want to pose the question of why this movie had to be this way? Why go the route of the nerdy/fat/whatever kid getting the pretty popular girls? Why not be more progressive? Why aren't there good, raunchy comedies with teenage (or any age) women as the stars? Why do I have the feeling that if there was a movie like that, it wouldn't be nearly as popular or as acclaimed? But for now, we have Superbad, and if you weren't a women and gender studies minor like me (I look at pop culture too critically sometimes for my own enjoyment), it's probably enough.


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Comments on "Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007)"


Anonymous the plague said ... (1:40 PM) : 

I think the main reason we don't see a female version of the teen comedy is that the people that write these comedies are all guys, and guys that (at least at one point) have a lot in common with the pathetic and ridiculous lead characters. Granted the dichotomy of western culture doesn't let women make the same type of jokes guys do, but I (a guy) would be interested in seeing a girl's take on this formula. Sarah Silverman is probably the only female doing raunchy humor on a mainstream level these days and even she plays into gender roles, and the fact that if she wasn't so cute no one would be putting her in front of the camera.

I don't think Superbad was very sexist or misogynistic, but all the female characters were completely one dimensional and useless (just like in knocked up.)

From a story standpoint I thought the plot of trying to get booze and laid was incredibly outdated and boring but the jokes are funny enough to let me not care.

On the plus side, I have Sleepover on dvd, so that helps.


Blogger dana danger said ... (4:27 PM) : 

i guess i should make myself a little clearer - i definitely didn't think the movie was sexist or misogynist, i tried really hard to stay away from those terms, both because they're loaded terms and because i don't think it is! maybe it just didn't cross rogen & goldberg's mind to include women? i couldn't agree more that the female characters were one-dimensional - there was never any doubt what they would do, i don't think.

in theory, i like someone like sarah silverman, but not in practice. she's always turned me off as it just seems she's being edgy on purpose, rather than organically. which can be said of all comedy! it's hard to talk about why something is or isn't funny, thus why this comment is so rambly.


Blogger Jamie J said ... (7:21 AM) : 

Superbad has some hilarious jokes and I laughed all the way through but many of your questions are questions I had as well. A movie like this would never get made with two teenage girls because the idea is that teen girls are luscious and sweet and have it extremely easy...they're just waiting for guys to run to them, instead of eerily similar to Evan and Seth (hapless) like 90% of the girls I know. I mean I felt like they kind of tried to show that girls aren't so unattainable with Jules being into Seth non-drunk and Becca being a clueless virgin just like Evan but...still so one-sided.

I also just don't get how these dudes have to fall head over heels for the hot chicks (I mean I get that but...) instead of girls who are funny or smart or both as they are. What happens to the funny girls at the end of the day?

Agreed on Sarah Silverman - she pushes too hard to be raunchy but then runs right back to her cute girl image. She's a cutie with a potty mouth and a man would never have to be cute and a potty mouth to get famous.


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