Superbad Directed by Greg Mottola Rocket Science Directed by Jeffrey Blitz The geeks in two new films just want to be lovedor at least get laid.

Paved New World: Superbad’s horndogs need rubbers, hit the road.

You’d imagine that most 14-year-old boys feel the same way about sex comedies as they do about each of their battled-for baby steps toward the big deed itself—it doesn’t matter if it’s any good, the point is that they’re getting some. About a decade ago, though, budding horndogs Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg allegedly became fed up with the subpar antics of their cinematic counterparts. Fuck this noise, they thought. We can do better.

And today you have Superbad, a movie to be filed under “ribald,” whose script started out as a seed in two boys’ dirty minds. Of course, the final product has gone through polishings and fleshings-out since its first wobbly-legged drafts, informed by the writers’ subsequent experience (Goldberg writing scripts for Da Ali G Show; Rogen starring in such Judd Apatow productions as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up) and maturity (though a certain period joke might have been in the original). If you’re not familiar with the R-comedy magic previously created by King Apatow and his court, Superbad sounds August-unexceptional: Two high-school seniors, thus far none too popular with the ladies, try to score some alcohol for a hottie’s party. They’ve been accepted to different colleges, so the best friends are thinking it’s gonna be their last big blowout. The ultimate goal? Duh: to get laid.

But audiences who’ve laughed their asses off at Rogen’s other work will be pleased to know that the Greg Mottolandirected Superbad is not just another teen movie. At 25, Rogen wisely deemed himself too old to star—even though he and Goldberg named the characters after themselves—but found a worthy surrogate in Jonah Hill, whose bawdy, loud-mouthed, obnoxious-if-he-weren’t-so-funny turn as Seth is the ’00s Bluto Blutarsky. Michael Cera is the straight man as Seth’s awkward friend Evan, an extension of Cera’s awkward George-Michael Bluth from the celebrated but canceled TV series Arrested Development.

Seth and Evan spend most of their time moaning about their lack of action—Evan pines over one particular sweetheart, Becca (Martha MacIsaac), while Seth is happy to fixate on girls in general, especially ones who “look like they can take a dick.” So when the sexy Jules (Emma Stone) improbably invites Seth to her party, he’s determined to become the booze-bringing life of it. Enter Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who’s so nerdy that even Seth considers him “the fucking anti-poon.” But, he’s got a fake ID, and even though it’s a terrible one (stating that Fogell is actually the one-named, 25-year-old Hawaii resident “McLovin”), it’ll have to do. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t.

Superbad tosses its hopeless antiheroes into some fantastically ridiculous situations as they make their way to said party, including Fogell’s adventures with a couple of cops (Rogen and Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader) and Seth’s and Evan’s rather more disturbing run-in with a potential pedophile (“So, you guys on MySpace?”) and his psychotic but alcohol-holding friends. Together, the main characters riff on typical Apatow topics—the production values of porn, say, or how unfair it is that women can show off their boobs but guys have to hide their boners. The dialogue is at times overwhelmingly hyperactive, though Hill’s wild-eyed and -haired mania is more difficult to settle in to than Cera’s dry, soft-spoken Bob Newhartnisms. As with any solid teen comedy, Superbad isn’t just about getting loaded and lucky, with the duo’s friendship and impending separation—because of school and, God willing, just maybe because of girlfriends—anchoring the story. The filmmakers don’t always handle the material’s tonal transitions smoothly, especially the friends’ abrupt if inevitable blowup. But then they offer yet another inspired dick joke—and as any 14-year-old will tell you, sometimes that’s what really counts.

Rocket Science Directed by Jeffrey Blitz

Too Cruel for School: Rocket Science’s Hal suffers his classmates.

To anyone thinking about writing, directing, starring in, or providing catering for a movie: Please, enough with Napoleon Dynamite Syndrome already. Nerd stories may have been around since the birth of nerds, but there’s a difference between focusing on the unpopular—as in Superbad—and “celebrating” the just plain weird. Rocket Science, unsurprisingly a Sundance favorite, falls into the latter category, this time propping up a high school stutterer and his odd family and friends for evisceration/good fun.

To his credit, first-time feature writer-director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound) doesn’t make his central character, Hal Hefner (what an ironic name!), a colorful idiot. (Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of those here anyway.) Instead, Hal (Reece Daniel Thompson) is a smart if shy New Jersey kid with a speech impediment, one so bad that he practices his lunch order on the bus ride to school. His parents have just split up—loudly and unexpectedly—and his brother, Earl (Vincent Piazza), is a bullying thief. Hal isn’t totally friendless, though: There’s his neighbor and classmate, Heston (Aaron Yoo), an Asian who does nothing but smilingly, creepily leer at whatever’s going on and, it’s implied, is sexually confused. (His dad, “Judge Pete,” isn’t, however, as he’s banging Hal’s mom.) And eventually there’s Lewis (Josh Kay), an 11-year-old who invites Hal in for 7-Up after questioning Hal’s right to ride his bike in front of Lewis’ house. (Lewis’ parents are—you’ll love this—always shown playing “Blister in the Sun” on the cello and piano as part of their marital therapy.)

The reason Hal began lurking on Lewis’ street to begin with is Ginny (Anna Kendrick), a cute but ruthless senior who’s a star on the debate team. Ginny used to be paired with another sharp talker, the slick, good-looking Ben (Nicholas D’Agosto). On the night of an important debate, however—the very night Hal’s and Earl’s father walks out!—Ben falls silent in the middle of his argument and drops out of school. And so Ginny recruits Hal to replace Ben, impolitely reasoning that “deformed people are the best—maybe because they have a deep reserve of anger.”

Ginny’s strategy continually and painfully proves to be a bad idea, yet she persists in trying to mold Hal—and he, naturally in love, improbably continues to let her despite his multiple failures. It turns out that some sort of scheme is involved, but it doesn’t make much sense. Then again, nothing besides Hal’s stutter and the deep hurt it causes him feels real here. Thompson will make you ache—though not over Hal’s alleged crush on the baby-faced beeyatch, who, even if her debate skills are impressive, is not for one moment likable. But Thompson makes his character’s emotional wounds palpable as he tries to speak the words so clearly being bullhorned inside his head. Blitz is trying to communicate worthy messages, predominantly about finding one’s own voice and taking chances. But they’re so bogged down in preciousness that you can’t see the intentions beneath the quirks.

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