Review: 'Superbad' Is Super Close to Perfect

Almost everyone in Hollywood is predicting that "Superbad," a new high-school comedy from the makers of "Knocked Up," will be the sleeper hit of the summer, which raises the question: can a movie really be a sleeper hit if no one is asleep about it? The success of "Superbad" feels so preordained by now that it's tempting to stick a pin in this gassy balloon—but the movie is just too much fun. Starring Michael Cera (TV's "Arrested Development") and Jonah Hill ("Knocked Up") as a pair of dweeby best friends making one last desperate push to get laid before graduation, "Superbad" is two thirds of a teen-comedy classic. As the polite, perpetually mortified Evan, Cera is a world-class sputterer. He delivers all his lines a split-second faster than you expect, turning each joke into a sneak attack. Hill's Seth, meanwhile, is a meatball with a heart of gold. He's foul-tempered, foulmouthed and often just plain foul, but without his best friend, he's like a neutered puppy. Beneath all the sight gags and penis jokes, "Superbad" is a romantic comedy about two boys in love. But not in that way.

The plot is compressed into a single day. The boys get wind of a big party, at which they dream of bedding the only kind of girls who'd ever permit it: really, really drunk ones. "We can be that mistake!" Seth reasons. But to get into the party, they need beer. To get beer, they need a fake ID. And to get a fake ID, they need their pal Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the dweebiest of them all, whose phony Hawaii driver's license claims that his name is "McLovin." Just "McLovin." Like "Madonna." McLovin and a pair of wack-job cops played by "Knocked Up" star Seth Rogen and "Saturday Night Live's" Bill Hader threaten to take over the movie at one juncture before order is eventually restored. The script, co-written by Rogen and his childhood pal Evan Goldberg, inexplicably sidelines Cera and Hill for long stretches in the middle of the film, and "Superbad" loses altitude whenever they're gone. But when the focus is on them, they're a duo for the ages. As a "Revenge of the Nerds" redux, "Superbad" isn't perfect. But it's super close.