Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The Popular and the Puny

Saw lately with my daughters two movies, the very popular and slightly satisfying Superbad and the little seen and not funny for more than a few seconds, The Ten. The last was seen on the eldest's recommendation because she likes Paul Rudd and Wet Hot American Summer.

Man, I thought, comedy must be hard.

The ten little stories in The Ten sometimes illustrate one of the ten commandments, other times they don't. All of them have one thing in common, they may have seemed funnier to someone (perhaps impaired in his or her perception) before filming began. They are also of the making you laugh at the 'surreal discomfort of others' school of comedy. From this modest beginning, the filmmaker totally fell down. Part of the problem was in the choice of actors. Liev Schreiber, for example, may or may not be a good actor (I have liked him in some roles in the past) but he has the comic actor ability of a claw hammer. No one in this film actually showed any ability to act comically. Whatever comedy there was existed entirely in the situations shown and they were all about as funny as a crutch. Let's move on.

Superbad has a few more moments of comedy but it's not high comedy and it's not what is interesting about the movie. Do teens really curse non-stop or is it just the director's version of modern reality? I do know real boys think about sex about as much as these boys. Heck, I think about it almost as much as they do, I just have a job that takes up some of my time.

English majors such as myself are trained in irony detection, which I'm not sure is a great skill. I detected some in Superbad, which was interesting and pleasurable. The fat gross kid is all excited that the pretty Jules wants him to buy booze because it's his idea that only impaired by alcohol would she have anything to do with him, physically (I would think the same under most circumstances regarding him). So he goes to all this trouble to get the booze only to discover that Jules isn't drinking any. Yet it's his reaction to that disappointment which gives him a chance with her (and that he was somehow impressive making bad looking tiramisu and was a life of the party type guy). As eldest daughter noted, funny or life of the party ugly guys get laid about as often as unfunny, dull Adonises. I hope that's not 602 knowledge.

Regarding the wimp going to Dartmouth, not McLovin, the irony is that his clueless refusal to get the hint with Becca, and then take what she is drunkenly offering, makes him all the more attractive to her. He wins her by rejecting her. I was reminded of the devil on one shoulder, angel on the other scene in Animal House and had the same ending reaction when the boy didn't have sex with the drunk girl, namely, questioning his sexuality. But on a better level, he and she have earned a better relationship by waiting until sober moments to declare their true feelings (for the boys this is clear from their willingness to go shopping with the girls--nothing could show the range and tenor of their affection more clearly).

The bad cops were over the top but underneath the unbelievable veneer, the most interesting characters in the thing. Superbad (the title is totally ironic as well) is not the fun of rite of passage good movies like American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused or even Gregory's Girl, but it's not a complete waste of time either.


Well thanks for telling me to read that, and finding out that you are like a teenage boy when it comes to sex. That was nice, thanks. (sarcasm) ANYWHOO, I think what Evan did (the dartmouth kid) is what every kid in his situation should do. Because then there would be a lot less rape trials don't you think? Anyway, good post.
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