Directed by: Greg Mottola
Written by: Evan Goldberg
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Seth Rogen
For the sake of our generation and the half-baked high school sex comedies that work (or won’t) to define it, there is an artist who is making sure that our comedies won’t be remembered by sex with pie, hangovers, ogres or those Sex and the City girls.
In Superbad he is only credited as a producer, but the film is loaded with a posse of writing partners, actors and talent who’ve all hitched their wagons to his success. It also resonates the style of the writer/director/producer in terms of narrative aesthetics, vulgar content, sentiment, male ego and penis jokes which he has vowed in every one his projects.
Judd Apatow, soon after finding endless success as a producer for Will Ferrell filth and once-roommate Adam Sandler, began rewriting Hollywood’s biggest scripts and becoming a critically adored creator of The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, started a brand for himself in comedy which now rivals John Hughes or Ben Stiller. Up until Superbad it’s all been for grown-ups (thankfully not with that latest Sandler hit, Grown Ups).
With Superbad, the Apatow market finally starting serving minors.
The concept is something completely identifiable. Two weeks are left of high school for Evan (Cera) and Seth (Hill), best friends since boyhood who are each held back by their friendship for each other instead of pursuing women and partying. But with an opportunity to get a fake I.D. from mutual friend Fogell (Mintz-Plasse), the two go on a quest to get booze in order to get laid. When a hold up at the liquor store scares the two away into finding alternative sources and puts Fogell in the custody of two corrupt officers (Rogen and Goldsberg) who appear fooled by the fake id and decide to take Fogell out for a night he will never forget.
In just one night, Evan and Seth must come to terms with each other going to separate schools, not getting ass and claiming their repressed love for one another. For as silly as it sounds, it’s touching in a way.
The idea came from writers and actors Rogen and Goldberg when they were 13 and wanted to see if they could write a screenplay. Years later Apatow pushed and guided them along into creating Superbad a super funny coming of age tale, where not enough coming is happening for the boys.
It is nothing in terms of filmmaking, except that it’s expertly executed with retro choices in music, costuming, mise en scene and director’s trust in his actors’ improvisation. The writing is where Superbad is remembered, with endless dialogue about porn, handjobs, gap jeans or meeting whores in bars. It’s strictly directed towards males, but that doesn’t mean females won’t find it just as hilarious. It’s not quite as chauvinist as it seems, with moralistic female leads like Emma Stone, sentimental character qualities in Seth and Evan and the acceptance of it just being big boy fun. At times it treads thin, but that’s why it’s so funny.
Superbad is culturally effective. Even three years later the graduation gifts it has given pop culture and young people everywhere is obvious. From McLovin’s “chicka, chicka yeah” and awkward looks to Jonah Hill’s explosive tantrums about spermicidal lube or home economics class, it is bliss.
There are simple techniques in acting and speaking like Seth Rogen’s numerous new and clever ways to say “Fuhhhhhck that” to brilliantly constructed dialogue bits about needing to be good at sex before college to dick drawings which put this film at the top. For years films and even teenagers will follow in its footsteps, mimicking the tantrums, Rogen laugh or countless other inventions that Superbad started.
Superbad, despite the vulgarity and the masculinity, is going to be remembered for a very long time for simply being superhilarious.