Every so often a movie comes along that defines a generation. In some cases, it’s a simple movie about a group of friends, doing something important or poignant. But this time, it’s a movie made by a group of friends that define everything about our culture.
“Superbad.” Say what you want about it, but it is quite possibly the funniest movie ever made. As cliche as it sounds, the phrase “doesn’t pull any punches” doesn’t do this movie justice. Period blood, illustrated dicks, McLovin and a great funk soundtrack never cease to punch the viewer with full force. With this merciless approach in mind, “Superbad” stands above other comedies that seemingly define a generation.
“Austin Powers”? Although this movie did indeed define a generation, Mike Myers did a parody, not comedy, so it therefore cannot be compared to the genius of “Superbad.” “Old School”? Sure, Ferrell poops gold and pisses excellence, but its still nothing more than a re-imagining of “Animal House.”
Many have claimed that “Superbad” is our generation’s “Animal House”– a bold statement, as “Animal House” was cinematic gold. Made on a relatively low budget nearly 30 years ago, it has gone on to become one of the defining movies of college life. I lived in the dorms for two years, and the first film showed on the IU movie channel was always “Animal House.” I’ve even heard rumors that fraternities on campus force their pledges to watch it. On top of all that, “Animal House” pretty much began the raunch genre. Sure there are other movies that came before it, but “Animal House” was one of the first that was accepted by the viewing masses.
There are definitely enough technical similarities to validate the comparison. Booze? Check. Inappropriate amounts of booze? Check. The search for sex and disrespect for authority? Check. Funny nicknames you call your buddies? Check. Never takes itself too seriously, even when it’s trying to be serious? Check.
About the only thing missing from “Superbad” that is rampant in “Animal House” is gratuitous nudity, which is one reason why “Superbad” is so great. Aside from the Judd Apatow collection, all the movies listed above have some form of nudity that is blatant, and yet “Superbad” doesn’t. The creators manage to not let this fact take anything away from the movie at all, which is a considerable achievement.
College is an interesting time for any person. It’s a time to throw caution to the wind, to embrace things you may not normally embrace, and to laugh at jokes that could get you fired in the real world real world could get you fired. It’s a time to enjoy things that may be “inappropriate” to everyone else, but are actually appropriate in their realism. I’m willing to bet that all students on this campus can see a little bit of at least one of the “Superbad” characters in themselves. I myself can see a little of Evan’s timidity toward women in me (although anyone who knows me would probably say it’s more like Seth’s foul mouth and sex-starved antics, but that’s a debate for a different day). And based on the stories I hear, most underagers can sympathize with McLovin and his Hawaiian roots.
The beauty of these two stories is that they are based on the writers and directors’ actual lives. “Animal House” resulted from stories published in National Lampoon magazine, and tweaked with stories from the directors. “Superbad” began when Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were 13, simply because they wanted to know if they could write a movie. Many of the other movies, while they may have some historical basis, probably don’t go as far as this.
Defines our generation? Maybe it’s a little to soon to tell. Pulling out the “generation defining” card is like claiming the first movie released in January is the movie of the year. It’s as premature as the studying scene in “American Pie.” But so far, no movie has really pushed the limits of humor. “American Pie” had the raunch, but turned into a coming-of-age rom-com faster than a Matthew McConaughey movie.
But in 15 years, I’m willing to bet “Superbad” will be quoted more than a “Chappelle’s Show” episode. And it’s then that we will know for sure if it truly defined our generation. But right now, it looks like a better bet than a democratic candidate.