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Superbad, in my mind, was hysterical. In one respect, that's all that matters. But when I left the screening, I was thinking more about whether it would become this generation of kids' seminal riotous picture, the way Animal House was for me.
I saw Animal House when I was about 11 years old. I saw it twice more after that in theaters, and when I was able to record a copy of it off of ON TV on our first VCR, there were times when I was coming home to watch some or all of it after school several times a week. Of course I wouldn't have used this word back then, but it was just that dear to me.
Blazing Saddles, always brilliant, was the first R-rated movie I ever saw (I was really young - about 7 or 8), and that's another film that I have deep feelings for and that I've seen more times than I can count. Same with Airplane and Stripes and others.
But Animal House just blew my mind in a way nothing else did.
Superbad, I have to think, will do the same thing for the 2007 version of me as an 11-year-old. It's a lot more crude than Animal House was - Animal House is pretty tame for this era, though no less clever. I am assuming that kids today are more prepared for this crudeness - and in fact, it's that crudeness, combined with an embraceable underdog story, one hilarious scene after another, and a kind of subversive intelligence, that will win them over.
There was a line toward the end of Animal House, after John Belushi has driven the Deathmobile into the bleachers and sent all the dignitaries flying in the air, when Mrs. Wormer is lying next to the mayor and says, "You can take your thumb out of my ass anytime now, Carmine." This was something that as a kid, I frankly just had a hard time wrapping my head around - the literal concept of it being so outside my comprehension - but it only added to my fascination with the film. In Superbad, there are lines crasser than that on an ongoing basis. But there is always a sound comic foundation behind them. I think it works.
I don't think Superbad was better than The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but Virgin had more to offer grownups. And maybe I'm wrong about what kids today will think of Superbad. Some people my age, after all, became addicted to Porky's, which was fine for what it was but couldn't hold a candle to Animal House as far as I was concerned. All I know is, if I were a kid today, I would be lining up to see Superbad again.