Superbad is one of the most classic raw comedy films of all time, starring then-youngsters Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, alongside weathered comedy greats: Seth Rogan and Bill Hader. Not to mention the casual appearance of about ten other future stars including Emma Stone and Dave Franco. Set in the early 2000s, graduating seniors Evan, Seth, and Fogell make a desperate at getting drunk and laid in their last few weeks of high school, resulting in one of the most bat-shit crazy nights any of them would ever have.
The problem with this film is it got drunk and forgot where the line is. Vulgarity in comedy is fine, there’s an extent to which it has to be there in a teen comedy, but Superbad takes it a little too far a little too often. It’s a shame because it’s a hilarious movie, absolutely laugh-out-loud funny, but most of the best comedy comes form situational, character jokes. With a few notable exceptions, the vulgarity of this film is consistently unnecessary, often getting to a point where it’s almost uncomfortable. Superbad is that movie where you angle yourself in a public space so that no one can see what you’re watching, ‘cause if someone saw some of this stuff out of context it could make for an awkward train ride home. Don’t let that mar the really funny stuff, there’s some freaking hilarious stuff, and there are even a few examples of vulgar content that’s equally funny but they take it too far too often.
I really liked the way the writing and directing teams hammered out a natural, authentic tone for this movie. No matter what happened, and a lot happened, it never felt contrived, which is a rarity in a film about teenagers, for whom most of life is a collection of forced happenings. The three headliners, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, are exceptional in their roles, not that there looked to be much acting involved from at least a few of them. Alongside those three, who really stand out, Bill Hader and Seth Rogan look to be having the time of their lives in as strong a comedic performance as can be expected from only the best of the best.
I’ve heard Superbad billed as a coming of age story, which I guess it technically is, but still manages to feel like a stretch for me. There are a couple moments that might qualify it, particularly one memorable scene with an escalator, at the very end of the film. It’s an emotional shot, one that shouldn’t fit in the tone of the film but manages to anyway. Mostly, though, the film isn’t aimed at much more than milking more exaggeration than should be possible out of 21st century high school culture, where the characters are secondary to that representation. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s just not my favorite approach to filmmaking.
As vulgar and grotesque as Superbad can be, and it really can be, it shouldn’t be ignored how funny it can be without those things. Equal to the moments of uncomfortable weirdness, which I chalk down to some over-enthusiastic and possibly narcotically influenced writing, are moments of a very pure and organic brand of comedy that I loved. My reservation, principally, would thus be the approach to telling the story, which is a deeply subjective thing. It’s definitely worth a watch but be ready to be super weirded out between the laughs.
– Aman Datta
Aman’s Score – 71/100 Aryamaan’s Score – 65/100