Is Judd Apatow the savior of American Comedy? This year’s one-two punch of Superbad and Knocked Up, backed up by his previous efforts, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and “Freaks and Geeks,” are difficult to refute.

As a director and producer, Apatow manages to take the now conventional gross-out comedy and infuse it with a sweetness that is both surprising and original. This sweetness also gives Apatow’s films a broader appeal while maintaining a consistency of laugh-out-loud humor that’s hard to match.

Superbad, directed by Greg Mottola and written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, showcases the wonderfully talented trio of actors Michael Cera (“Arrested Development”), Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as friends and fellow outcasts hellbent on a night of booze and hijinks. What could easily have been another version of Porky’s instead becomes a smart and unusually insightful story of two high school friends wrestling with the excitement and fear inherent in moving on to the next stage of their lives: college.

What Superbad gets so right is the dichotomy of wanting to grow up yet at the same time wanting to stand still. Cera and Hill, as two best friends, know they have to go their separate ways but long to stay as they are.

Few movies have captured male friendship so poignantly and without fear of being branded gay-themed. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of humor to smother the sentiment.

Grade: B

Superbad is currently available.