After I watched Superbad, a friend of mine told me that the script was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg when they were just 13 years old. To be honest, I wasn’t that surprised to hear that this movie was written by middle-schoolers. The plot revolves around two teenagers who are trying to to get laid before the school year ends. Their opportunity comes when two girls invite them to a graduation party under the condition that they bring booze. They spend the rest of the movie looking around town for alcohol and running into a lot of problems along the way.
Obviously this is a juvenile movie. Nobody should walk into it expecting anything else. The whole idea of Superbad is that it portrays teenage boys as foul-mouthed, horny creeps, not wholesome, innocent nerds. The kids in this movie are not bad people; they’re just crude. It’s a generational thing. Probably the reason I don’t connect with this movie is because I never lived it. My adolescence was nothing like this. I was never bullied, I didn’t drink, I didn’t play video games, etc. I wasn’t a very wild kid. I certainly remember feeling embarrassed and left out sometimes but I didn’t handle it the way these characters do. I’m sure there are people out there who felt exactly like this in high school; I’m just not one of them. To me, this doesn’t capture what it felt like to be an adolescent.
The cast contains a lot of big names, some that were big at the time, some that have become big since. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are decent as the leads. Seth Rogen and Bill Hader are kind of funny at first, but they’re in the movie for too long. I’ve got to admit, however, that I like McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). He’s probably the most likeable character in the movie and I’m not just talking about who Mintz-Plasse portrays; he as a whole feels very genuine.
Some of the most unexpected moments become funny because they would never actually happen in real life. The world’s most suspect fake ID ends up working like a magic trick. The drunken, trigger-happy police officers are more fun to hang out with than the kids. Seth tells his home ec. teacher that her class is B.S. and he gets away with it. Tell me that’s not what teenage boys fantasize about doing.
Superbad gets praised for being really heartfelt and I never quite understood why. Every review I read about it says that it’s a touching story about the sincerity of friendship. I don’t know if I’d categorize it that way exactly. I think it certainly explores friendship, but it’s done in a pretty raunchy way. The true heart of the movie is excess. It’s about sex, guns and alcohol and that’s what makes it exciting. We get to see the nightlife of a suburban town through the eyes of a teenager but all of this splashy self-indulgence takes away from the impact of the story. The proof is in the ending. Seth and Evan realize that they didn’t need alcohol to get the girls, they just needed to be themselves. Is this the right message? Yes. Is it what audiences will actually take away from the film? No.
Superbad operates on a level of teenage boy fantasy. It’s male-driven. Adults of any gender and women of any age probably won’t find it funny.
2 out of 5 stars