Painter-turned-director Greg Mottola scores with “Superbad”

Greg Mottola, graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Art (notable grads: Andy Warhol, Jonathan Borofsky, John Currin), directed “Superbad,” which opens in theaters today. Rumor has it that instead of submitting a screenplay with his application to Columbia’s film school, he opted to submit a graphic novel. After graduating with an MFA in the early nineties, Mottola wrote and directed “The Daytrippers,” (1997) which, according to the Superbad website, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. Besides directing episodes of “Undeclared,” he directed several installments of HBO’s “The Comeback,” Lisa Kudrow’s hilarious but inexplicably short-lived satire of celebrity reality shows.

Scott Foundas in the Village Voice: “Directed by Greg Mottola (an alumnus, like Hill, of Apatow’s short-lived TV series Undeclared), Superbad is duly ribald and often achingly funny, brewed from the now-familiar Apatow house blend of go-for-broke slapstick and instantly quotable, potty-mouthed dialogue. (‘I’m so jealous you got to suck on those tits when you were a baby,’ a wistful Seth tells Evan after an encounter with his friend’s amply bosomed mother.) But what sets Superbad far apart from the American Pie series�indeed, what earns it a place alongside American Graffiti, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Dazed and Confused in that elite strata of high-school comedies destined to stand the test of time�is its sweet, soulful vulnerability, particularly as it becomes clear that the only thing Seth and Evan feel more anxious about than losing their virginity is the thought of losing each other, in the fall, when they head off to separate colleges. That naughty-but-nice approach might seem something of an Apatow clich� by now if the characters themselves didn’t ring so true. Make no mistake: Superbad is a movie about getting wasted and getting laid, but it is above all an ode to the end of teenage innocence in all its wonderful, horrible splendor.” Read more.

David Denby reports in The New Yorker: “The character Seth airs his memories (which we see in flashback) of a time when he was a little boy and couldn�t stop drawing penises. A kind of exuberant art show follows, with page after page covering school desks�simple line drawings of magnificent organs and phallicized trees, artillery, and towers. The sequence is hilarious and charming�a child�s garden of verses for our time.” Read more.

At Salon, Stephanie Zacharek proclaims: “The movie doesn’t need any superfluous redeeming qualities: Its pleasures and charms lie in its very crudeness, in the way the characters’ thoughts begin in their dicks and spill out of their mouths, completely bypassing their brains.” Read more.

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