Superbad (2007) dir. Greg Mittola
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogan, Bill Hader
It was the summer of Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow - first “Knocked Up” then “Superbad”, which is like the irresponsible little brother of “Knocked Up”, more dirty, nasty and immature. It’s out on DVD this week, and I got a chance to see if it stands on its second viewing. Without the raucous theatre experience it doesn't have the same impact it did that first viewing. The often forced crudeness of the dialogue, makes is feel like a first screenplay but it's still a wholly entertaining entry into the
Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are prototypical teenagers, and even though they’re about to graduate, they’re still negotiating their way through the social challenges of high schooldom. Their plans are Machiavellian. They know they’re going to get laid in University, therefore they need girlfriends for the summer so they can actually be good at it by that time. This opportunity presents itself in the form of a big party held by Jules - a Tier 1 social strata babe. Their plan is to use the new fake ID of their nerdy friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to buy liquor for the party. This would ingratiate them with the cool kids and hopefully get them girlfriends for the summer.
Things don’t as planned when Fogell comes back with a Hawaiian driver’s license named “McLovin”. After much arguing Fogell grows a pair, buys the booze, and is just about the leave when a perp knocks him out while robbing the store. He wakes up in the care of the police, who then take him on a wild debaucherous diversion. Meanwhile, Seth and Evan’s plan B has them crashing another house party and stealing their booze. The story moves at a quick pace as the night takes the trio of losers from one outrageous situation to another.
The film has a lot going for it - strong and genuinely funny comedic writing to start. The situations aren’t necessarily original, in fact, it’s a combination of “American Graffiti”, “Animal House”, “Porky’s” “Dazed and Confused” and “American Pie”, but writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg inject a healthy dose of “I’ve been there” reality.
Casting is top notch. Hill as Seth and Cera as Evan are completely opposite in personality and this contrast is essential for comic duos – ie. Smothers Brothers, Martin and Lewis. Seth does most of the talking, shouting and complaining; Evan is content to go with the flow. On the second viewing Jonah Hill’s motormouth did start to get on my nerves, and Cera’s shy understatedness also feels a little self-conscious the second time around. But that’s really nitpicking.
The film really gets moving when Fogell meets the childishly irresponsible cop duo, Slater and Michaels (played Seth Rogan and Bill Hader, who, I’m convinced are minor comic geniuses). They take idiocy to another level.
The discovery is Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who is transformed from the wirey Fogell into the party legend McLovin’. His best scene is when he’s roped into his inspiring booty shaking dance with a party hottie. The best moment for Seth is the confession of his childhood habit for drawing highly detailed sketches of cocks. This has added humour for me because of a good friend of mine who had a penchant to tagging public places with similar sketches.
For several reasons, “Superbad” trumps all other similar films of its genre– specifically “American Pie”, which this will ultimately be compared to. The “American Pie” series was always plagued with sappy cheeseball character arcs that undermined all of the film’s raunchiness. “Superbad” does have characters that change and grow but they remain badass losers to the very end. As well, “Superbad” is cast with likeable and lovable leads. “American Pie” was cast with good looking but ultimate cardboard actors with no personality. And thirdly, I doubt we will ever see “Superbad 4 – Band Camp”.
“Superbad” is one of those movies that condenses everything that is fun about high school and distills out all the crap. The Two-Disc Special DVD, which I recommend picking up, includes a satisfying helping of extra material. It's billed as an unrated cut, but I only noticed some more Jonah Hill verbal rambling as the extra footage. The behind-the-scene spots are actually shot behind the scenes, so it's not just a disguised EPK featurette. The gag reels, deleted scenes and all other stuff are worthy of the humour in the film. Enjoy.
Here’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse on Jimmy Kimmel: