Superbad is stuck together out of pretty standard stuff. It’s another iteration on the Fast Times at Ridgemont High clone genre, another story about a pair of losers who want to get laid before they leave high school and set off for college. It tries, valiantly, to set itself apart from the pack by making the bosom buddy friendship between those losers the focal point of the film as a way of getting us invested in them, but personally I never bought it as anything other than a slightly more entertaining than usual teen raunch-com.

The losers in question are Seth and Evan, played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera respectively. Superbad follows them on a night of hunting booze and poon, that as they so often do, goes totally awry and leaves them lying in vomit somewhere. Both Hill and Cera are supremely talented comedic performers, but much of the time they’re completely wasted here on dialogue that can’t seem to get over a bad case of Tourette’s syndrome. It’s an R-rated raunch comedy so you expect a lot of vile, over the top profanity but Superbad takes it to an entirely new level; substituting frequent uses of the words “cock”, “balls”, and “fuck” for actual jokes. Profanity simply for the sake of profanity is only funny for about 5 minutes, unless you’re under 12 and have never watched cable television. Sadly, that seems to be all there is to the story of Seth and Evan, and while they have a few funny moments most of it is lost in superfluous cursing that says nothing and soon wears out its welcome.

Luckily, Seth and Evan aren’t the whole story here. Superbad seems as if it was written to make them the focus of the film, but somewhere in the editing room I suspect someone wised up and realized they needed something else. That something else is their third-wheel friend McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who starts out the movie as a footnote but by the end of the film his sub plot is the one that will have you rolling in the aisles. While Seth and Even wander around town screaming “balls!” at people, McLovin encounters two out of control cops played hilariously by Seth Rogen and Bill Heder. They take him on a whirlwind tour of irresponsibility and police brutality; boozing, beating, and shooting their way across the city in a wanton orgy of policeman gone wild with McLovin along for the ride in the back seat. What starts out as a subplot soon becomes the comedic center of the movie, and while Cera and Hill’s story is only mildly entertaining McLovin and his cop buddies are killer funny.

It may be that since he had a hand in writing the script, Seth Rogen is simply better at writing for himself than he is at crafting words for other actors. Or, since movies like this so often involve a lot of improv, it may well be that Rogen and Heder are just a helluva lot better at it than Hill and Cera. Whatever the reason, Superbad ends up being a fairly standard teen raunch romp with some really funny parts involving a completely unrelated subplot. It’s worth sitting through Hill and Cera to get to Rogen, Heder, and McLovin.

Josh Tyler