The geek boy has been a staple of comedy since the Greeks. OK, I’m lying, but you know what I mean. He’s the scrawny dickhead with no chance of ever getting laid. Except in the movies, that is. Now, as McLovin in Superbad, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (hardly a name you expect to see up in lights) reinvents the geek boy for the new century. He’s a big reason why the hip, hot and hilarious Superbad packs more gut-busting laughs than you can count. Judd Apatow produced this raunchy antidote to High School Musical from a script that Apatow’s Knocked Up star Seth Rogen wrote with his Canadian school chum Evan Goldberg when they were — do you effing believe this? — thirteen.
This deceptively throwaway farce (it’s actually a keeper that comes up aces in writing, acting and directing) takes place entirely on one night, when three high school losers desperately try to hustle booze for a party in the illusory hope that hotties will be more likely to give them head. Chubby Seth (Jonah Hill) and dorky Evan (Michael Cera) leave the task of obtaining fake ID to Fogell, a four-eyed creature from the nerd lagoon who instills confidence in no one but himself. He creates a driver’s license that cites his age as twenty-five, his address as Hawaii and his name (just one) as McLovin. What should fool no one instead bedazzles all, including two cops, played by SNL’s Bill Hader and Rogen (his riff on guns and cocks is classic). McLovin — the license ID’s him as an organ donor — is suddenly cool.
And Mintz-Plasse, who has never acted before (hell, he’s in high school), makes McLovin a geek icon for the ages. Long after you’ve forgotten a decade of Oscar winners, you’ll remember McLovin. Mintz-Plasse knocks it out of the park.
More good news: Superbad is superfun across the board. Apatow has nurtured the script ever since Rogen used it as a calling card to get TV work as an actor and writer on Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. Sadly, Rogen was deemed too old (at twenty-five) to play himself as a teen. So the role of Seth fell to Hill, Rogen’s co-star in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, who is only one year younger. Irony — you gotta love it. With Arrested Development’s Cera, 19, playing Evan, Superbad had its buddies in place and a director, Greg Mottola (The Daytrippers), with the style and smarts to bring it home.
It helps that the fun doesn’t stop. It helps even more that the pitch-perfect script doesn’t step out of character for a joke. Chunky vomit, menstrual blood and artful penis drawings are all part of the growth process. Rogen and Goldberg know how horny adolescents talk. Evan, doing a deep think on why a girl’s nipples can make his dick go boing, wishes babes could feel the same way about his erections. Don’t we all. And beneath the teasing banter — with an added dollop of queer fear — Hill and Cera deftly uncover two scared teens trying to hide their feelings. Seth worries that Evan will go to Dartmouth and punk out on their friendship, leaving him to grow up like the two cops — lost boys with badges, played with crazed zeal and surprising nuance by Hader and Rogen. Powered by a comedy dream team, this shitfaced American Graffiti dares to show it has a heart. So step up for Superbad, and find your inner McLovin.