By now, every regular cinemagoer should have at least heard the name Judd Apatow. Yes, the guy who did that hilarious movie about the 40-year-old virgin played by Steve Carell. So, what about him? Well, for one, Apatow makes raunchy comedies that succeed at the box office, delight the audience, and usually score high with critics. Yes, you read right. Although each project Apatow is somehow involved with is comprised of a humongous amount of profanity, film critics love his work. Now he returns as a producer on Superbad, a teen comedy about a bunch of high school friends who try to get drunk and get laid before kissing senior year goodbye. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?
Unpopular high school seniors Evan (Michael Cera) and Seth (Jonah Hill) have great plans. Although they must face the ugly truth of going to different colleges next year, there are two more things they absolutely have to achieve before they graduate: buying alcohol and losing their virginity. The one thing leads to another they both think, but getting to the booze presents the first big challenge, especially when you’re under the age of 21. The only person to help them out is their awkward friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who just got himself a fake I.D. with the name McLovin, and agrees to go buy the liquor. Eventually, one thing does lead to another, and before we know it, McLovin is partying with two incompetent cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader), while Evan and Seth try to find their way to the biggest party in town.
From what I’ve learned from interviews and commentaries, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were 13 years old when they first started working on the script for Superbad. I certainly don’t know how it looked back then, but the story seems to have a certain truth to it, and I am sure many people out there will find it easy to somehow relate to what Evan and Seth are experiencing. Indeed, the idea of three friends struggling to buy booze and wanting to get laid soon becomes the vehicle for a much deeper, more serious story: the story about the loss of a best friend. Evan and Seth have been best buddies forever and never had to deal with any thoughts about separation, but now that the high school chapter comes to an end and they will soon set out to different colleges, their solid friendship is in jeopardy. Amidst all the dirty jokes about getting wasted and having sex before the end of the year, the film never stops examining the friendship between the two protagonists.
One thing you’ll notice right away is that Superbad comprises an extreme amount of profanity. If you generally don’t have a problem listening to characters saying “fuck”, “suck”, “cock” and “tits” in practically every scene, you’re in pretty good shape. Most of the time, they use these words and search for close substitutes to construct all sorts of peculiar and obscene phrases, some of which are hilarious, while others simply crash. The film’s most notable episodes include McLovin’s first attempts to buy alcohol, and his night out with the two cops. Although the latter is not directly linked to the film’s central theme of Seth and Evan’s relationship, it loosens up the atmosphere and definitely provokes most laughs.
What makes this movie even more enjoyable is the wonderful ensemble cast. Jonah Hill, who also appeared in Apatow’s Knocked Up, masters his role without the slightest problem. Although he’s just as much of a loser than Evan and McLovin, he’s the one with the powerful voice, the dirty words and the craziest fantasies. Top acting honors, however, go to the phenomenal Michael Cera, best known for his role in TV’s Arrested Development. Playing the shy, innocent looking Evan, who stutters when he talks to a girl and sings like a diva, Cera steals every scene from his co-actors and carries most of this film on his shoulders. The guy with the big laughs is no other than Christopher Mintz-Plasse, whose McLovin will make you jump out your seat every time he opens his mouth. Without the potential of this talented cast, including Seth Rogen and Bill Hader as incompetent police officers, Superbad might not have been this good.
All in all, Apatow’s crew has landed another hit comedy that distances itself from most raunchy comedies by featuring both dirty language and a smart, touching story with a subtle message. Although this might not be the perfect movie to share with the entire family (at least not until the kiddies are old enough), it certainly is the ideal choice for a fun night with your closest friends. So, in case you haven’t guessed yet, Superbad is in fact supergood.
As expected, the 2-disc unrated extended edition of Superbad is overloaded with special features, half of which are more dreadful than hilarious. As long as the extra material is somewhat relevant to a movie, I don’t mind working my way through tons of featurettes, gag reels and deleted scenes, but when a majority of the content turns out to be boring and has absolutely nothing to do with the film, I do get aggravated. Well, at least all the bonus material is just as profanity-laden as the feature film itself. Whether or not that’s a good thing, I leave up to you to decide.
Let me kick off with the good stuff you’ll find on the disc. There’s a 13-minute “Making of,” which is quite interesting because screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg discuss how the project came together, and how much in the story reflects real-life experiences they encountered back in high school. Furthermore, members of the cast and crew briefly mention how they got on board, and producer Judd Apatow explains how happy he is to have kept the project alive for so many years. I highly recommend watching this piece because it’s a good opportunity to get to know the Apatow crew (that is, if you don’t know them already). Footage from the shooting is also included.
The highlight of the special features section is the filmmakers’ commentary with, you won’t believe it, Judd Apatow, Greg Mottola, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. I never listened to a commentary with that many people shouting in the background, but it actually turns out to be quite refreshing. Everybody has something to say about something in the film, and everybody eventually gets a chance to speak up. Most of the time, however, they all just break out in laughter about their own jokes. I have to admit they keep the focus on the movie for most of the 118 minutes, and reveal some interesting information about the shooting of the film, as well as the cast, editing, music and humor. But, if you think about turning on the commentary solely to avoid the massive amount of profanity in the film, don’t do it. As far as I can tell, the commentary is even dirtier.
Besides a hilarious gag reel and some decent deleted scenes, the bonus material on the Superbad DVD also comprises a horde of unnecessary features that are actually superbad. One of those is entitled “Cop Car Confessions,” a 33-minute piece in which Seth Rogen and Bill Hader ride in the car and answer peculiar and sometimes quite obscene questions from various celebrities such as Judd Apatow, Adam Goldberg and Justin Long. Most of what they talk about is nonsensical and just dead boring, without any valuable relevance to the movie.
The disc also includes a tedious 27-minute “Table Read,” which contains original footage from a 2002 and a 2006 reading that features cast members simply reading their lines out loud. I suggest you turn your attention to “Auditions” instead, which includes footage from cast auditions and is, although not that different from the table read, at least a little more energetic. The rest of the special features are not even worth being mentioned, as they reach from plain ridiculous to ultra-boring. Unless you plan on watching Jonah Hill touch a snake or some random guy undressing two hotties in a van, I suggest you skip the specials.
As funny as the feature film may be, the bonus section on the Superbad DVD disappoints. Some extras are worth your time and money and actually offer compelling information about the movie itself, but most of what you’ll find on the second disc is just plain crappy. Too bad. Too superbad.