HOLLA: Once Upon A Time, I WAS Superbad

BY JAMES ‘WOOK’ DOOLITTLE During the monotony that was my youth, the Granite Run Mall was a weekly destination of choice for the geeks I hung with, due in large part to the proximity of the new AMC multiplex (8 screens!), the mall’s two arcades, and the fact that there was — by popular misconception — a school of thought that the girls of western Delaware County were a notch or two above the girls of eastern Delaware County in the looks department. Not that we ever progressed past gawking at members of the opposite sex. We were, after all, geeks.

I recently found myself back at the Mall, killing time, checking to see all that was still the same (every sportingsuperbad-posters.jpg goods store, the Chik-Fil-A, Orange Fucking Julius) and what was — regrettably — not; for one, the noticeable lack of a record store in a mall that all but built my cassette tape collection (damn you Best Buy!), and more egregious, the fact that the mall’s two arcades have been laid to waste in favor of a Family Fun Spot, a generic-descriptor-as-name that actually translates to “where all the shittiest of arcade games go to die.” I wondered to myself (no, seriously, I did) if the second video game revolution, which categorically began with the dawn of the PlayStation, destroyed arcade outposts in malls across America. If so, then perhaps it also killed any desire for kids like the kid I was to leave home to gawk at girls.


Wandering the stretch between Sears and Boscov’s, I couldn’t help noticing there wasn’t a generational 2K version of my posse, no pack of wayward teens gathered on a bench, sipping a Pineapple Julius, eyeing booty, and making tonight’s big decision; McDonalds or Sbarros? Aladdin’s Castle or Jolly Time? Spy Hunter or Star Wars pinball.

The closest I came to spotting a doppelganger was a pack of metrosexual teens walking out of the Gap, necks craned 180-degrees at a total MILF who was probably as old as me. And for the record, we never shopped for clothes together back in the day. Ever. Greg Mottola’s Superbad has only exacerbated these memories of a time — scratch that, a routine — that I endured not too long ago in a suburb not at all far away, if only because of how perfectly it captures the awkward first few steps outside of one’s social safety zone, which — realistically I might add — almost always usually results in the greatest night ever. Mine involved a pack of beautiful vixens lost coming home from a Soup Dragons show, with pizza on their minds, conversation in their mouths and not a clue when it came to directions.

superbad2.jpgFor Superbad‘s star-making trio, it’s basically the same; the simple promise of being thought necessary by those who – under different circumstances — wouldn’t probably offer up the time of day, let alone a drunken blowjob. When it comes to funny, and with the exception of Borat, there hasn’t been something this joyfully delirious in quite some time. You laugh until it hurts, howl until you scare the older couple next to you, and then berate those you speak with the following day who thought it was only — ONLY — alright. The fact that it’s both awe-inspiringly hilarious as well as magnificently empathetic is why it’s already being mentioned in the same breath as the giants of the genre — namely, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed & Confused and American Graffiti. Like those milestones, Superbad is super good because it’s super endearing. Even when expletives and dick jokes are flying fast and furious, at the core, it’s still about an emotional state that’s invigoratingly familiar, delivered by Mottola and producer Judd Apatow with nary a hint of sap. In fact, the denouement is classic in its construction, as two chums profess their love for the company they keep while lamenting that the company they keep has perhaps robbed them of certain experiences (namely, drunken bloqjobs). In fact, the most surprising thing about Superbad is how long the last shots linger in your subconscious, echoing the realization that you too may have had way back when, that sad realization you’ll never hang out at the mall the same way again.

JEFF DEENEY RESPONDS: The eastern/western Delco debate runs a lot deeper than just girls (sure, western Delco girls had their teeth, but eastern Delco girls could drink like bikers). Aladdin’s Castle was far superior to Putt-Putt in both game selection and overall atmosphere but Putt-Putt had the advantage of being within easy walking distance of whatever cemetery or train trestle you and your buds decided to drain a handle bottle of Canadian whiskey at first. And shit, for music you couldn’t touch the Balcony at 69th Street if you were of the metalhead persuasion (weren’t we all?). You could not only fill up on cassette tapes and vinyl, but also outfit your denim jacket with patches, buy gauntlets, and t-shirts all in one spot. I see where you’re coming from but I’ve got to go with eastern Delco by a wide margin.

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