MOVIE: Superbad (2007)

Okay, it’s official — my sister and I just don’t get the hoopla over Judd Apatow’s movies.  It’s not that we don’t find them funny — it’s just that we don’t find them THAT funny.  They’re not funny enough to warrant all the HOOPLA, people.  They just AREN’T!

I really thought I’d like this one better than I did, though — it’s about geeks, after all, and I if there’s one thing we know Apatow is good at, it’s stuff about geeks (case in point: his brilliant series Freaks and Geeks).  But most of the humor in Superbad is crassly misogynistic, to an extreme that even I, who knew to expect it after seeing Knocked Up, was sort of surprised by.  I mean, seriously, you men find menstrual blood THAT disgusting?  Really?  You do?  Okay, well, time to get over that, fellas, because if that’s really how you act when you encounter it, you’re all a buncha sissies.

That said, this film, as with all the other Apatow movies I’ve seen, did have its touching and effective moments.  The story focuses on two geeky pals, Seth and Evan, who are spending their last year in school together, preparing to go their separate ways in the fall when college rolls around (Evan got into Stanford, Seth did not).  Graduation night, they finagle an invite to a major party when the Cool Kids find out one of their nerd posse, a serious dork named Fogle, has a fake ID.  Seth, Evan, and Fogle can come to the party — if they bring the booze.

This sets off a crazy scheme to send Fogle into the local liquor store, despite the fact his fake ID rather hilariously gives his full name as simply “McLovin.”  Just when he’s about to get away with it, though, two banditos show up and rob the joint, knocking Fogle on his butt.  Seth and Evan arrive just as the cops are pulling into the parking lot, leading them to think Fogle’s been caught buying booze underage.  Panicked, they take off, leaving Fogle to fend for himself with two of the most ridiculously bumbling cops this side of Keystone (ah, Seth Rogan, how I love you!).

The rest of the night is mostly a blur of drinking, trying to score with babes, and various other high school shenanigans.  And while I realize we were supposed to find it sort of amusing the way these three dorks talk incessantly about sex, casually throwing around the word “vag” like they actually know an ass from an elbow, when the final credits rolled, I confess I just kind of shrugged and sighed.  

One of the problems for me with Superbad was that with Apatow’s two other big movies (Virgin and Knocked), it was relatively easy to root for the bumbling-idiot protagonists to succeed.  They may have been total dorks, but they clearly had solid, good inner selves.  With this one, however, we were obviously supposed to want rotund, geeky Seth to achieve his goal for the evening — finally getting laid.  But, try as I might, I just really didn’t LIKE Seth.  To me, his status as an outcast in school was deserved — earned not by his awkwardness, but by his totally toxic personality.  The guy’s a jerk, and there’s just nothing lovable about jerks for me.  And while his jerkiness may have been a facade, covering up a deeply wounded and sweet little dude on the inside, we never really see that side of Seth, and that made it pretty hard for me to get behind him.

Evan was a little more sympathetic a character, clearly struggling with his feelings about college and his somewhat-challenging friends.  But since I’d just seen Michael Cera play a WAY more lovable character in Juno, I couldn’t help but wish Bleeker would show up and pull this movie out of its own slime.

I do want to see Apatow’s latest movie, Walk Hard, which looks utterly hilarious (even my boss liked it, and I know she doesn’t go for gross comedies so that seems like a good sign).  And I’m curious about the two he’s written for 2008 so far, Pineapple Express and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.  I’m not giving up on Apatow, but will confess my excitement over his potential has definitely abated after his last two flicks.  It’s going to take some radical changes in his style to bring that back for me. 

What do you guys think of Judd’s movies?  What did you think of Superbad?  Am I just being an annoying GIRL about this one, or what? 

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Comedy
Cast: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogan, Bill Hader, Stacy Edwards

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5 Responses to “MOVIE: Superbad (2007)”

  1. Trip Says:

    I liked Superbad myself, it was fun to watch in the theater, along with a crowd of high schoolers on a rainy Friday night.

    The thing I like most about Apatow’s movies is the dialogue, which is closer to the way guys actually talk among themselves than Hollywood typically portrays. We really can be that filthy and funny when it’s just us hanging out.

    Apatow’s movies are full of great conversation back-and-forths that just make them shine.
    Example: when Steve Carell, as a 40-year-old virgin, attempts to explain what a naked breast feels like to a table full of guys who actually know. Or in Knocked Up when Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan playfully rank on each other (“You’re dressed like a cholo on Easter”).

    Another example that plays here is the menstrual blood you reference. It’s not the blood itself that’s gross, it’s the context. There’s a similar scene in Virgin – when Carell is driven home by the dangerously drunk chick. In both scenes, the male lead is confronted with a dream situation – finally, a sexy female appears receptive – but it ends up disastrously wrong wrong wrong, to comedic effect.

    As for the rest of the flick, I guess I had somewhat lower expectations – especially when the cops appear. There’s just no way in hell real cops would do what those guys do in the movie, and so I was able to reset and just let it play out as a teen comedy/fantasy. You are correct, though…there’s no way Seth gets that hot of a girl, ever. Again, some parts of the movie don’t transfer to real life.

    I especially liked when the cops bail out McLovin and pretend they’re arresting him at the party and he pretends to be an out-of-control outlaw. “You’re gonna get so much ass for this!” – and they’re right. It’s fun when the uber-nerd prevails so spectacularly.

  2. megwood Says:

    I actually thought all the scenes with the two cops were hilarious — definitely NEVER something that would EVER happen with real cops, but that almost made it that much funnier because it was so extremely ridiculous. And I can see your point about the menstrual blood scene for sure (dream sequence come to life, but wrong wrong wrong!).

    But the rest of it — maybe it’s just too much a guy thing? I mean, obviously the dialogue doesn’t resonate as much with me because I don’t KNOW how guys really talk when it’s just them hanging out (because if I’m there, it’s not just them hanging out anymore). Nevertheless, for me to really like a film, I have to really like the characters too, and I just wasn’t feelin’ it this time around. Meh.

  3. Brenda S Says:

    OK, I just saw Superbad (in two installments) on New Year’s Day. With a name like Superbad and knowing the general premise, it automatically becomes what I call a Pauly Shore movie – you go in with a certain (very low) level of expectation. The cop scenes kept it from being a total loss. Definitely not worth the hype.

    Personally, I liked it better than Knocked Up (frankly, my labor was less painful than watching that movie). Virgin was definitely the best of Apatow’s three movies thus far. Although, he did have the benefit of comic genius Carrell. Perhaps it is time they work together again.

    I fully agree that he is not living up to the early brilliance of Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared. Here’s to hoping his next movies are better. If not, then he’s become a total Kevin Smith (size of budget inversely proportional to quality of writing).

    Walk Hard I do recommend, even without having seen the Phoenix/Witherspoon movie it heavily references. For that matter, it spoofs nearly all the rock star bio movies/TV shows. (A brief heads-up: there is one scene where the gratuitous nudity probably went too far. Might want to warn any prudish companions.) LOVED the cameos and there are plenty. A week or so after seeing the movie, we saw a trailer that had several cameos not in the movie. I suspect they’ll be on DVD (Walk Hard: The Director’s Cut).

  4. Joanne Says:

    Superbad was hilarious the first time I saw it and even better the 2nd time around.

  5. jo Says:

    Superbad depressed the heck out of me. (Can I say heck?) I’m a grown woman and should be able to shrug this stuff off, but for some reason the idea that boys think of girls as nothing but walking vaginas that might walk slowly enough not to get away just sent me spiraling down harder than anything had since I found out Colin Firth was married.

    I think it didn’t help that my husband laughed so hard he hurt something.

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