Superbad [2007] arguably closes the “Americans Coming of Age in 24 Hours” trilogy begun by Lucas in 1973 and continued by Linklater two decades afterward. Wildly out of control, but at the same time completely genuine, Greg Mottola’s film is—make no mistake—a zeitgeist work of art. Written directly from the teenage source by a then-young Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Superbad may be too much for more conservative audience members, those self-denying prudes who can’t handle the truth about growing up: it’s weird. Remember?

No bars withheld. Brutally awkward, savagely profane, and at times rather intense, the greatest and worst night of the lives of Seth (Jonah Hill, inimitable) and Evan (Michael Cera, indefatigable; do the character names sound familiar?) hurtles along with bloody unpredictability, fueled by the rush of hormones, the fog of alcohol, the powers of fate, and the clueless charisma of McLovin, sunk into the fabric of human culture like wine by Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the most disdainfully likable person alive.

All hail the R-rated comedy! Producer Judd Apatow (and his frequent collaborator Shauna Robertson) were the parents of the modern adult comedy in much the same way people are hailing Deadpool as the father of the adult superhero film. Ensuring the powerhouse careers of Hill, Cera, and costar Emma Stone—who gloriously entered into the film industry fully formed, brains, lisp, and all—Apatow’s and Mottola’s film, though visually uninspired and technically basic (save for a wavering handheld shot that lends an extraordinary amount of street cred to a scene involving two virginal boys bickering in a parking lot), nevertheless supplies character and storytelling verve that will keep it alive for generations to come.

I really thought I’d rate it 4.5 but after thinking about it there’s honestly no reason to remove that half-star. I’m as surprised as you are.

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