With multiple storylines, a funky theme song and animated credits, Superbad would have made a good T.V. show. Imagine Freaks and Geeks with South Park crudeness. Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have given their alter-egos complicated personalities that could provide material for several stories. Every week, I could see them navigating the school halls in search of coolness while avoiding getting beaten up. The movie is like the series finale following its beloved characters on one last adventure before syndication. As Seth and Evan are sad to see each other go, so am I.
Superbad follows longtime friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) as high school graduation nears. After summer, they’re going to different colleges. Disappointment hangs over the two. Among their regrets is not asking their respective crushes out. When Seth’s love, Jules (Emma Stone), invites them to her grad party, they see a chance to redeem themselves. All they need to do is secure the alcohol. Unfortunately that rests on the brittle shoulders of their friend Fogel(Christopher Mintz-Plasse). He has the fake I.D. The problem is that he named himself “McLovin.” Will sounding like the hippie Bono work? Somehow they need to find booze or look like complete losers.
Judd Apatow veteran Greg Mottola directs Superbad. But this film sticks to realistic characters and situations that make Apatow’s style appealing. We don’t get one-trick weirdoes like Napoleon Dynamite. Instead, we get characters who are a mix of different traits. Sex is Seth’s entire vocabulary. Every waking moment, he is a motor-mouth of obscenities. Like Eric Cartman from TV’s South Park, he spites other kids to feel superior. Unlike Cartman, he’s more caring than he’d like to admit.
Best friend Evan, is Seth’s polar opposite. He’s so shy that when his dream girl, Becca (Martha MacIsaac), talks to him, he drones on about having a fantasy weekend way more exciting than partying. Other movies would restrict Evan to being the hopeless romantic. “Here’s to respecting women,” says Evan, toasting a crowd of horny boozed up girls. No matter how hard he puts on his nice guy act, he’s a lustful teen. While talking to her in the halls he tries to playfully punch her in the shoulder, but—oops!–hits her chest instead.
These kids make the picture. They get along so well. Their anxieties send them running into and sometimes away from embarrassing situations. Fake I.D scene is funny because they’re all afraid of screwing up their big moment. For entertainment value, Seth Rogen and Bill Hader’s Keystone Kops, are pretty funny. These sad excuses for law enforcement spend Friday nights hanging out like teenagers. Their conversations are laced with the same pop culture references and stoner antics as in Knocked Up. The problem is they never have any reason to be in the plot. Still, Seeing Bill Hader as a cop dancing to F’ the Police by Ice T is hilarious. The ending was slightly disappointing. It was a little melodramatic considering the perversity we’ve seen.
Superbad represents all those kids you grew up with who were acutely aware they were losing the High School Game. That yearning for a memorable event at least once before the end of high school is important for teens. In this movie, the yearning seems more important than the party which almost became a failure for the boys. For Seth and Evan, the big event was recognizing their long friendship.
Superbad comes in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format. It was shot in high definition video, but the movie has a washed out film effect giving a 70’s vibe. The print seems faded and in soft focus, but this is intentional. It has standard 5.1 Dolby Digital audio.
Plan on spending a whole night or more watching all of Superbad’s special features. Comedy fans will love the entertaining and unruly nature of the DVD beginning with the commentary track. You’re pretty much hanging out with the filmmakers and cast. It’s not strictly educational. The track is a mix of on-set stories, jokes, and anecdotes that sometimes have nothing to do with Superbad. They get along so well here that it translates well to what we see in the movie.
Highlights of the extras include my favorite deleted scene of Evan and Seth sneaking alcohol out of Evan’s house while his mom is home. Cop Car Confessions is a long series of Saturday Night Live style sketches with Officer Slater and Michaels. This is cameo city as celebrities, including those from other Judd Apatow films, are taken into custody. They all act in character as they try to convince the police to set them free. Expect the quality of the humor to vary from skit to skit like the TV program. The Jane Lynch one is my favorite. She was the Smart Tech Manager in 40 Year Old Virgin. Check out the DVD or Christopher Guest films for more of her great improvisation skills.
Table Read and Auditions focuses on the casting and scripting. In these early videos, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the absolute strongest pick. He’s as fearlessly nerdy here as the director described on the commentary. Michael Cera is also a no brainer. Jonah Hill looked like a small stretch to be Seth in his first audition. We see him get into his character more in other clips. Watch the two table reads from 2002 and 2006 and see how a few word tweaks as well as having different actors make Superbad sound natural and not “scripty.”
The special features ends with an exclusive first look at Pineapple Express, an upcoming movie by the “Apatow Crew”. All in all, this is a hilarious set that gives you Superbad in full unrated depravity and extras that seek to entertain. At times some of the jokes feel a little too pointless. However, Columbia Pictures and the filmmakers have created a whole other viewing experience.
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Cop Car Confessions
The Making of Superbad
The Vag-Tastic Voyage
Table Read 2002
Table Read 2006
Michael’s Voicemails from Jonah
Snakes on Jonah
T.V Safe Lines
Dancing Title Sequence
Everyone Hates Michael Cera
On Set Diaries
Press Junket Meltdown
Pineapple Express: Exclusive First Look
The Upside: Superbad is a funny teen comedy with realistic situations and a holy grail of special features.
The Downside: The plot breaks up the main characters into two separate stories in the middle when it should have stuck with the high school scenes. The ending is necessary but too sappy. A few sketches just fill up time in the Special Features.
On the Side: This is the third Apatow produced movie in a row parodying the porn industry.