September 21, 2016
Superbad (2007)
Grade: 58/100

Director: Greg Mottola
Stars: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

What it's about. Three teens are about to graduate from high school. They are Seth (Jonah Hill), his best friend Evan (Michael Cera), and their odd-man-out friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Evan and Fogell will room together at Dartmouth, and have a bright future, while Seth will be left behind.

Cool, hot girl Jules (Emma Stone) plans a wild house party while the parents are away. Seth crushes on her, and volunteers to bring a large supply of alcohol to the party, in the belief that this will get him laid. Evan invites would-be girlfriend Becca (Martha MacIsaac) to the party, but in a role reversal, she wants to seduce him. Key to the alcohol procurement scheme is Fogell's phony driver's license, which states he is 25 and thus legal to purchase booze.

Fogell's ID somehow passes scrutiny at the liquor store, but because it is a movie, the store is robbed by a third party, and police immediately show up. The two cops are Slater (Bill Hader) and Michaels (co-writer Seth Rogen), two young men who enjoy having a good time. They promise to drive Fogell and his booze to the party, but distractions delay his arrival.

Meanwhile, Seth and Evan end up at a rowdy adult house party, where they plan to steal beer to deliver to Jules' party. Evan witnesses illegal drug use, and to prove he is not a narc, is obliged to perform a karoake version of The Guess Who's "These Eyes", which he knows even though it was recorded two decades before his birth. Seth narrowly escapes a beating after dancing too closely with Carlo Gallo, the girlfriend of the party's bully.

Because it is a movie, Seth, Evan, and Fogell reunite at Jules' party. Seth, laden with alcohol, is welcomed as a hero. Seth is further fortunate that his mix of beer and laundry detergent fails to sicken anyone at the party. Fogell and Evan score, or at least almost do, while Seth's hopes are dashed, at least temporarily.

How others will see it. Superbad is best known for making stars of out of Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Emma Stone. The movie was a box office hit, earning many multiples of its fairly low budget. It falls into the raunchy young adult comedy, in the tradition of Animal House, thus it is unsurprising that the movie was ignored by the major film festivals.

But its popularity is unchallenged. At, it has a huge 425K user votes. The overall user ratings are high (7.6 out 10), but predictably, decline with advancing age of the viewer, from 7.9 under 18 down to 6.9 over 45. It is also predictable that men like the movie more than do men. Women over 45 grade it 6.1, and perhaps forgive the hijinks of the teen boys more than the loose behavior of the teen girls.

How I felt about it. The first draft of the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg screenplay was written when the two were 13 years old. This confirms what the movie appears to be: a male teen fantasy. Regarded as such, the ridiculous things that happen in the movie are strictly figments of the writers' imagination.

Cops wreck and torch their cars; a high school student launches an expletive-filled tirade to a teacher and get rewarded for it; super-cute Becca is so infatuated with distant, geeky Evan that she would announce to her friends that she plans to blow him; a gorgeous fun babe like Jules wants to date fat, homely jerk Seth; Seth is hit by two cars, smashing the windshield of one of them, yet is completely uninjured; nerdy Fogell gets laid, etc. These events occur because it is a movie, which is closer to a fantasy than a comedy.

That said, the film has an edgy quality. The outcomes should be negative (e.g. Seth taken by ambulance to the emergency room), but the characters' charmed, fictional lives are steered back to safety by the writers. The message is that reckless behavior is inconsequential, even rewarded. But don't try this at home.

The film is conventional in that the lead believes that if he pulls off the nearly impossible (underage teens bringing $100 worth of liquor to a house party) he will score with the hot chick. In movies, the hero often gets the girl. Real life differs.

Nonetheless, it is true that the movie is better than it should be. This has to do with the writers, director, and actors buying into the notion that every high school dufus should have one night of glory, deserved or not. It helps that Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are good actors.