Director : Greg Mottola
Screenplay : Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 2007
Stars : Jonah Hill (Seth), Michael Cera (Evan), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fogell), Bill Hader (Officer Slater), Seth Rogen (Officer Michaels), Martha Mac Isaac (Becca), Emma Stone (Jules), Aviva (Nicola), Joe Lo Truglio (Francis the Driver), Kevin Corrigan (Mark), Clement Blake (Homeless Guy), Erica Vittina Phillips (Mindy), Joe Nunez (Liquor Store Clerk)
It's hard to know where to begin when describing Superbad, an uproarious teen comedy that pulls no punches even as it manages to interject a genuinely sweet message about the nature of friendship and maturity amidst all its cleverly parsed vulgarity, so I'll let the MPAA Classification and Ratings Administration do some of it for me: Superbad contains “pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image--all involving teens.” In other words, it is perfectly honest about the late adolescent male experience, in all its hilarious ugliness.
Seth Rogen, who has achieved something very close to stardom with his lead role in Knocked Up (2007), and Evan Goldberg, Rogen's childhood friend and writing partner, started penning this teen opus about misfit best friends searching for booze and sex when they were in high school as a response to the kinds of formulaic teen movies they hated, and it shows. This is not, though it might appear to be, a slam. Quite the opposite, in fact: Because Rogen and Goldberg were still at the age they were writing about, their characters and situations have a ring of authenticity that is often lacking in even the funniest teen comedies.
The two main characters, who are not-so-curiously named after the screenwriters, are Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), a perfectly mismatched odd couple. Jonah, with his portly frame and wild hair, is a libidinal explosion waiting to happen. He is full of raucous energy and horndog passion, although it often comes out as either anger or crudity. Evan, on the other hand, is reserved and thoughtful, which he can be largely because Seth provides enough energy for the both of them. The entire story takes place on one of the last days of their senior year in high school, and the cloud hanging over their heads is the knowledge that, at the end of the summer, Evan will be going off to Dartmouth while Seth heads to a state school.
When Seth and Evan are unexpectedly invited to a party that night, they promise to provide the alcohol courtesy of their geeky friend Fogell's (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) newly minted fake ID, which proclaims his name to be McLovin. In Evan's immortally hilarious deadpan observation, his use of this ID will result in one of two things: The liquor store clerk will correctly identify Fogell as yet another kid with a fake ID or he will think “Here's McLovin, the 25-year-old Hawaiian organ donor.”
The ID does work, but the actual procurement of the liquor is temporarily waylaid by an unexpected robbery of the liquor store, which brings in two bumbling cops, the seemingly clueless Officer Slater (Bill Hader) and the even more clueless Officer Michaels (Seth Rogen). Thus, Seth and Evan's best-laid plans of getting booze, being labeled heroes by all the thirsty partygoers, and getting the girls are jeopardized, which sends them on a new odyssey to procure more alcohol. Meanwhile, Fogell is off on an odyssey of his own with the two officers, who are little more than overgrown adolescents themselves. While this portion of the movie is frequently hilarious, it is also the movie's weakest because it doesn't really fit with the rest of it. Granted, the screenplay provides a coda that explains how the police officers are a part of the movie's teen-centric perspective, but it feels oddly tacked on.
The plot, of course, is just set-up, and nothing about it is particularly original or even all that clever. What makes Superbad work so well is the way in which the filmmakers have invested in the characters and the situations. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are both perfectly cast in their respective roles, and they generate a palpable chemistry that works both comedically and dramatically--and sometimes both at the same time. One of the film's funniest and most moving scenes is when they drunkenly proclaim their best-friend love for each other … and then wake up feeling awkward the next morning.
Director Greg Mottola isn't afraid to pile on the slapstick, but he understands that Superbad's heart and soul is in the characters' interactions, whether it be Seth berating Fogell for his ridiculous decision to change his name to the highly unlikely “McLovin” or Evan trying to deal with his longtime crush (Martha MacIsaac) wanting to have clumsy, drunken sex with him. The situations throughout Superbad are exaggerated, and some of them are just downright bizarre (wait until Seth tells the story of his childhood obsession with male genitalia), but they always have just the right ring of truth to them. Superbad treads a thin line between the absurd and the genuine, which is the funniest place of all.
|Superbad Two-Disc Unrated Extended Edition|
|Superbad is also available in rated and unrated single-disc editions and on Blu-Ray.|
|Subtitles||English, French, Spanish|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||December 4, 2007|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|The anamorphic widescreen transfer is bright, clean, and very well detailed. The film was originally shot in high-definition video, so it has an inherently crisp, sharp look, especially in the daytime scenes. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack works quite well, especially in crowd scenes like the cafeteria or at the various parties, where the surround tracks create a thoroughly enveloping environment.|
|Considering the contributors to the audio commentary--director Greg Mottola, producer Judd Apatow, writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and actors Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse--it doesn't require a real leap of imagination to guess that it is quite a rollicking affair. The entire group was recorded together, although half of them were in New York and half were in Los Angeles at the time, and they spent most of commentary laughing, joking, and generally talking over each other. |
The second disc opens with seven deleted and extended scenes, all of which are presented in anamorphic widescreen and run a total of about 13 minutes. None of them are particularly good, so it's not hard to see why the material was cut. “Cop Car Confessions” is a series of 13 shorts featuring Bill Hader and Seth Rogen's incompetent cops driving with various people who are played by such actors as Jane Lynch, Chris Kattan, and Justin Hill. Many of these shorts have already appeared on the Internet, but it's nice having all of them together in one place.
There is a definite sense that the cast and crew had a lot of fun making the film, which is plenty evident in “The Making of Superbad,” a 13-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, as well as the 17 minutes of “On-Set Diaries.” Several other featurettes show how the cast and crew got along during and outside of production, including the four-minute “Snakes on Jonah,” which documents how director Greg Mottola celebrated Jonah getting his tonsils taken out by paying a couple of Aussie animal wranglers to come over and give him firsthand experience with giant snakes, iguanas, and cockroaches (Jonah, who admits to a fear of reptiles and animals, looks positively petrified at various points). There are also some amusing fake featurettes, including “Everybody Hates Michael Cera,” a jokey bit about how no one likes working with the eponymous actor, and “Press Junket Meltdown,” in which Jonah and Michael are interviewed by a rude Brit. “Line-O-Rama” is essentially four minutes of the actors saying different variations of some of the movie's funniest lines, and the gag reel is four minutes of on-set screw-ups, pratfalls, Jonah Hill's cell phone ringing, and malfunctioning vomit special effects. Believe it not, they actually had broadcast television in mind while shooting Superbad, and the three-minute featurette “TV Safe Lines” shows how they went about shooting alternate dialogue that would be acceptable to network standards and practices. They only show two brief scenes and their alternate versions (both involving Jonah Hill's dialogue, natch), but I imagine they had to shoot at least half the movie this way.
“The Vag-Tastic Voyage” is the complete version (although still only a minute and a half long) of the porn film Seth, Evan, and Fogel are watching at the beginning of the movie. Much more interesting is video footage from two “table reads” of the script, one back in 2002 with Seth Rogen reading the part of Seth and one in 2006 with the actors who appeared in the film. There are also 13 minutes of audition footage of Cera, Hill (who was shot on the set of Knocked Up), and Mintz-Plasse. Finally, there is a four-minute excerpt from the upcoming film Pineapple Express, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the animated menus contain many, many additional, um, drawings by Seth not seen in the movie. Just when you think it couldn't get any weirder …
Copyright ©2007 James Kendrick
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