DVD Review ★★★ Movies You May Have Missed

‘Superbad’ Captures the High School Experience

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Actors Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, and Michael Cera (left to right) star in the 2007 film “Superbad” as Fogell, Seth, and Evan, respectively.
Melissa Moseley—Columbia Pictures


Directed by Greg Mottola

Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Seth Rogen

Rated R

A seminal moment in the development of the “Superbad” plot (with every pun intended) is the revelation that one of the protagonists is obsessed with drawing male genitalia. The scene progresses through a shameless montage of phallic artistry that effectively sums up the film as a whole: much like watching a car crash between two fertilizer trucks, “Superbad” both shocks and disgusts, yet leaves the audience absolutely spellbound. Essentially, if you can’t appreciate the humor and splendor of a picture of a human-sized penis leading a marching band down the street, you should probably not watch this movie.

“Superbad” tells an ancient tale. A tale older than recorded time. A tale first told when our most primitive slimy ancestor crawled out of the primordial oceans looking for something to hump. Two teenage friends, Seth and Evan (played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, respectively), spend the day trying to get drunk and get laid. Like a deranged carpenter, “Superbad” furiously hits every nail on the head when it comes to the high school experience: the awkward interactions with the opposite sex, the frantic search for somebody with a fake ID, and the late-night sexual liaison broken up by vomiting. Moreover, the film does a sincere job at addressing the more serious aspects of the high school experience, like the inevitable straining of friendships after graduation and the growing process that entails. “Superbad” isn’t just a movie — “Superbad” is life.

Like late night HBO, “Superbad” explores multiple teenage male fantasies at once, and as always, the direction of one’s path is determined by who’s riding in the police car. After an alcohol purchase goes awry, the ill at ease but somewhat endearing Seth and Evan are taken to a party by an ex-con in the hopes of stealing alcohol for a high school gathering. Simultaneously, their incorrigibly dorky friend, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), is taken for a drunken ride by a pair of Star Wars-obsessed cops while still posing as the person described by his fake ID, a 25-year-old Hawaiian simply named “McLovin.” The film covers pretty much every dream that one can imagine having as a high school student: hooking up with hot girls, going to adult parties, and lighting squad cars on fire. Moreover, the film contains perhaps the single most priceless line ever, when a drunk police officer warns underage partygoers that “I assume you all have guns and crack.” Smells like high school to me.

Make no mistake, however: in case you couldn’t tell, the film’s humor is far from highbrow. “Superbad” is to Shakespeare as a rhino defecating on a piece of canvas is to a Monet: twice as awesome, but a little bit less subtle. “Superbad” is the stereotypical teen movie gone horribly, beautifully right. It’s like “High School Musical” if you removed the singing, dancing, and morals, and added an unhealthy dose of hormones, substance abuse, and awesomeness. It’s an improvement, to say the least.

Perhaps the best element of “Superbad,” however, is the fact that there really isn’t much (or any) redeeming moral value. The film sends a gloriously depraved and morally destitute message to thousands of young high school teenagers the world over: if you illegally procure alcohol and light cop cars on fire, you will have lots of sex with people who are much more attractive than you. And if that’s not the American dream, I don’t know what is.