Film discussion

Throwback 10: Superbad

We throwback ten years as Steve Norman re-examines 2007's hit teen comedy Superbad...

2007. Was it really ten years ago? On 14th September of that year, Superbad was released in the UK. I was a slip of a twenty year old at University; and I, like protagonists Seth and Evan, had the whole world in front of me. Albeit I was young, confident, a bit slimmer, less world weary and cynical. I had a student loan burning a hole in my pocket and I lived on noodles and Dominos Pizza. I went out too much, played too much FIFA at the expense of my course, and ended up with a 2:2 in Sports Journalism. If I’d taken it all more seriously, I could be writing for the Guardian by now!

Anyway, at this point, I should probably stop trying to draw a student comparison to Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s first feature collaboration by talking about myself, and start talking about the film instead.

Superbad was co-written by the aforementioned Goldberg and Rogen (wonder who they named the lead characters after…) and starred Emma Stone, Jonah Hill (as Seth) and Michael Cera (as Evan) in early roles. It was a breakout movie indeed for many of the actors involved, as well as Goldberg and producer Judd Apatow; although the latter had recently had some success with Knocked Up along with Rogan after becoming a mover and shaker in comedy with Steve Carell starring The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Their picture involves Cera and Hill’s two teenagers and their buddy Fogell (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who would end up trying to destroy the world later, comically, as Red Mist in Kick Ass), who indulge in the usual high school movie tropes. They go on a quest for alcohol, try and get laid, get in trouble with the cops, fall out, make up, the usual. What it lacks in originality – let’s face it, American Pie and even earlier Porky’s covered the exact same ground – it makes up for in laughs. When it’s funny, it’s bloody funny and perhaps one of the best comedies of its era.

Highlights include Fogell, in the guys’ desperate attempt to acquire alcohol for a party they want to attend, showing up with a fake ID with the made up name of ‘McLovin’, before they end up having the strangest brush with the law thanks to a pair of bonehead, stoner cops (played brilliantly by Bill Hader and Rogen himself, in extended cameos). Mintz-Plasse steals the show as ‘McLovin’, grabbing many of the best lines and scenes from his co-stars, who do the ‘bromantic’ heavy lifting. McLovin is the comic relief in an already funny flick.

In many ways – and this is where it distances itself from the aforementioned teen comedies of the same genre – Superbad is really more of a buddy movie. Seth and Evan’s actions first serve to weaken and eventually strengthen the bond between the two best pals who are moving on to the next stage in their life, and moving away from each other: something most readers will have probably gone through if they moved away to university or college. There’s a chance you may well have experienced a fair bit of the same kind of juvenile humour too; a measure of dick jokes, gross out humour and quotable one liners.

At the end of the day, it’s the relationship between Cera and Hill which keeps you invested. Perhaps I liked it so much because at the age of twenty, it was all quite relatable? Only three or four years earlier, I had been Seth… or maybe Evan… maybe a bit of both? Ask any bloke now of about thirty and they will have probably felt the same way about Superbad, if they watched it when it first came out.

Are you a fan of Superbad? Did you watch it when it first came out? Let us know in comments or via social media.

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