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The International Writers Magazine:Film: McLovin!

Greg Mottola (director), Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (writers)
Starring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Russell Thomas

Superbad is testament to the fact that teen movies based in and around American high schools will never be exhausted. There is at least one made for every generation; some see Dazed And Confused as the film of their youth – later on Ferris Beuller’s Day Off became a milestone for the 80s. More recently the American Pie franchise broke us in when 1999 rolled around. But it is Superbad that has taken the teen movie by the belt and dragged it stumbling into the twenty-first century.
The film follows two students at a high school due to leave for college in a few months, Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera). In typical teen movie fashion they are the underdogs – the losers or geeks at school who talk non-stop about girls, but who rarely, if ever, get the girl in reality. This does not stop Seth from being an extroverted, loud-mouthed, foul-minded individual – you can suss his character from one of the first lines of the film, where he expresses a desire to sign up to a website named "vagtastic voyager". Evan, on the other hand, seems to be more sensitive and considerate, although, being a hormonal 18-year-old, he joins in with Seth on more than one occasion.

Essentially, this film is a ‘buddy movie’, exploring the relationship between Seth and Evan, and how it fluctuates when outside influences (girls, college, etc.) encroach upon them both; the main point of conflict stems from them going to different colleges. The plot is based around one party, and everything attached to this party.
Our heroes, plus the inevitable geeky third wheel, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), McLovin it says on his ID, are invited and are faced with two main problems: getting alcohol for the party, and getting the girls that they want. As expected, these plans go awfully awry, which sets up a series of unfortunate, and – quite frankly – hilarious, events. Look out too for the 'cool' cops who play McLovin along. Seth Rogen is one of the cops and writer of Superbad.
Far from relying on the cliché ‘gross-out’ jokes or the clumsy slapstick of films like Road Trip and Dude, Where’s My Car?, Superbad combines manageable elements of these with a snappy script and fantastic characterisation that will provide laughs throughout. In fact, there are only a few moments in the film that can be said to have been put in purely to force a laugh from the audience. As for the plot, there are enough twists to keep the film moving forward– and jokes are not rehashed, which is relative to the spontaneous nature of modern comedy. Mainly, it will be the characters that keep the audience riveted, laughing, and wondering what on earth will happen next. It is perhaps outlandish in places, but what film ever caught anyone’s attention that wasn’t even a little bit ludicrous?

This film is definitely not for everyone but the target audience has been reached and thousands of males in their late teens will be laughing for some time to come.

© Russ Thomas November 2007

Russ is studying creative writing at the University of Portsmouth

Alt View of Superbad by Anna Bennet
Superbad’ begins with the promise of being a new teenage cult classic, such as ‘American Pie’. The first twenty minutes, in which the two main characters, Seth and Evan are introduced, are humorous and daring. Profane language and graphic references to sex are used extremely frequently, but to amusing effect.

Seth (Jonah Hill), a chubby eighteen-year-old boy desperate to have sex, has a wonderful turn of phrase. This is demonstrated in a scene with himself and his domestic science teacher, where a hilarious, fast paced conversation takes place. His language although possibly offensive to some viewers is extremely quick witted, eccentric and very comical. You instantly see that Seth, the more dominant of the two leads, is interested in one thing only- sex.

His best friend Evan (Michael Cera) is quite the opposite. He is mild, shy and generally a, and I hate to use this word, ‘nice’ character with good moral fibre. As I said, the beginning of this film is promising, but after a short while the jokes do begin to wear thin. A lot of the material is original, and certain slang words I, for one, had never heard before, but there are only so many jokes that can be made about boys wanting sex, and I feel they used most of this great material in too early on in the film.

Soon a third main character is introduced- Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). He is the token ‘geek’, for whom you begin to feel sorry, after he takes a tirade of harsh abuse from Seth throughout the whole film. The relationship between the three is an interesting one- Seth can clearly not stand Fogell, Seth and Evan are best friends, Evan and Fogell are moving in together when they leave for the college that Seth didn’t get into. So the film isn't quite as superficial as one might immediately think- jealousy, friendship and morals do come into the equation to come extent.

The boys are invited a party where the girls they have their eyes on will be. Fogell gets hold of a fake ID and promises to buy alcohol for the other two. Seth and Evan go on to promise the girls that they will buy the alcohol for the entire party using said fake ID. Seems straight forward, but alas the audience knows immediately that nothing in the film world is that simple, and so the tale begins.

As Fogell is buying the alcohol a man comes into the shop and robs the till, after having hit Fogell in the face. The police are called and wish to talk to Fogell. They all form a rather strange friendship and Fogell ends up spending the evening with the cops, riding round in the car and drinking beer. I think this side story is the films saving grace. The two policemen (Bill Hader, Seth Rogen) are great characters, and although not very realistic, they keep the story rolling along nicely.

For me, as the only aim of the film is to get to a party, I lost interest fairly quickly. Problem after problem cropped up, some funny, some just rather frustrating, but all very predictable. The odd joke would bring a smile to my face, and this was mostly due to the police and Fogells’ antics.

This film will, I’m sure, make many a teenage boy chuckle, as they will be able to empathise with the lead characters. I didn’t completely dislike the film, and was impressed with much of the script, but the actual story left much to be desired. I had high hopes for this film, but left with little more than a feeling of disappointment, and a sore backside from sitting down and watching it for over two hours.
© Anna Bennett November 2007

Anna is studying creative writing at the University of Portsmouth

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