Before you yell at me, I know Superbad is one of the best movies of the 2000s, and I’m well aware that Evan Goldberg’s and Seth Rogen’s comedy is considered one of the greatest films within the genre. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and mine is that I had a really hard time liking this coming-of-age comedy.
Going into my first viewing of this movie I really thought I’d like it. I was coming off the high of 2019’s Booksmart, and hearing all about how it was a lot like the comedy starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. I was riding a high, I loved the comedy from Olivia Wilde, and I figured I’d love the 2007 classic too. I also adore the entire cast of Superbad and I tend to like most movies in this genre. However, I hated Superbad the first time around.
So, in an effort to prove my original opinion wrong, because I feel like I should love this movie, I gave Superbad a second chance. And while I liked it more on this rewatch, there are still elements to this film I hate. However, there are some delightful silver linings too.
Jonah Hill’s Character Is Insufferable
Let me start by saying that I can’t stand Seth, the character, not Jonah Hill, the actor. In fact, 21 Jump Street is one of my favorite comedies, and I tend to enjoy most of Hill’s movies. With that out of the way, I think I can now safely say that his character in Superbad is insufferable, and the primary reason I don’t like this movie. I’m not exaggerating when I say that just about every single time he was on screen I wanted to turn the movie off. Seth is a whiney, immature and self-centered dude, and I genuinely couldn’t take his complaining.
Let’s take the scene where they find out about Fogell’s fake ID for example. Both Seth and Evan are understandably mad that their friend decided to just go by McLovin and claim he was 25. However, Evan handled the situation in a much calmer way, and there was really no reason for Seth to yell:
No you’re not. No one’s McLovin. McLovin’s never existed because that’s a made-up, dumb, fucking fairy-tale name, you fuck!
I didn’t find it funny, I found it aggressive. Seth had already yelled at the kid enough, this was excessive, and moments like this happen consistently during Superbad.
What really bothered me the most about him was how he blamed literally everything on others. He never really took the blame on himself, and he didn’t try to help his friends when they failed, instead, he just screamed at them. Now, we can blame this on him being a teenager, however, that’s no excuse. His pal, Evan, is a sweetheart, and while he shouldn’t have kept his rooming situation a secret, Seth had no reason to push him around and be rude to him for the entire movie (with the exception of the final few minutes).
Superbad Is A Product Of Its Time, And I Am Not Of That Time
Superbad came out in 2007, and you can tell for a couple of reasons, one that’s problematic and one that’s not really its fault. Nevertheless, it’s a major reason I didn’t like the movie.
On a few occasions, they used ableist and homophobic remarks, and the way the men talk about women in many scenes can be pretty degrading. I realize that when this movie came out, all of this was not necessarily frowned upon in the way it is now. However, I couldn’t look over it for that reason.
Along with some of the problematic elements of the movie, this issue with it being a product of its time also comes down to a simple difference in generational humor. I was 8 years old when Superbad came out, and I am not exactly part of the generation it was targeting. In my mind, a movie like Booksmart, which came out in 2019 and is about two high school girls going on a Superbad-like adventure, is way funnier. However, I also realize that my lived experience matches that of Amy and Molly's more than Seth and Evan’s for a myriad of reasons, one of the major ones being that the early 2000s and what was funny then is different than what’s funny now.
Respectful King Michael Cera Is At His Funniest When He’s Not With Jonah Hill
I’ve always loved Michael Cera, and this movie was just another reason why. However, my minor bone to pick with this situation is that while he was hilarious it was only when he wasn’t with Jonah Hill’s Seth, which wasn’t often.
Seth is such a strong personality, and Evan is quite introverted. So, when they shared a scene, it was overwhelmingly run by Hill’s character as he yelled at Cera’s. However, with that said, there were still many hilarious moments from Cera, and he truly was a highlight of this movie for me.
Easily, the scene in Superbad that had me laughing the hardest was when Evan got stuck in a room with a bunch of scary older men, and they forced him to sing. Cera singing “These Eyes” is peak comedy, and that’s just a fact in my book.
On top of his hilarious physical comedy moments, Evan is also a sweetheart and super respectful. Not only is his scene with Becca really funny, it also shows that Cera's character really cares about this girl, and he just wants to do right by her.
From Scott Pilgrim vs. the World to Juno to Arrested Development to Barbie, I’ve always had a deep love and appreciation for Michael Cera, and this movie made that even stronger…But I wish he would have had more scenes where he wasn’t forced to listen to Seth complain.
McLovin And The Cops Are The Reason I Kept Watching Superbad
Even before I saw Superbad, I knew about McLovin. Who didn’t? He was a cultural phenomenon, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s performance is one of the reasons this movie wasn’t completely terrible. His plotline of trying to buy alcohol and then befriending Officer Slater (Bill Hader) and Officer Michaels (Seth Rogen) was for sure the high point of the film. All three men were firing on all cylinders and their comedic chemistry was perfect.
The cops' first scene when they’re interrogating the clerk at the alcohol store not only got this storyline off to a fantastic start, but it's also a great example of how phenomenal these three are together. When Rogen drew the suspect while the two officers were trying to figure out his height, I couldn’t stop chuckling. Also, I think the tone for their relationship with McLovin was really set when this interaction happened:
Officer Michaels: How old are you McLovin?
McLovin: Old enough.
Officer Slater: Old enough for what?
McLovin: To party.
These two guys are so dumb, and their efforts to take McLovin under their wing was a true highlight of the movie. Honestly, I wish Superbad was just about the shenanigans and hijinks of Slater, Michaels and McLovin.
I Can’t Deny That Superbad Is A Well Constructed Story
I say this with slightly gritted teeth, but I can’t deny that Superbad is very well made, especially when it comes to the story structure. This journey Seth and Evan go on truly does come full circle, and their fears of their friendship ending when they go to college is so real. While I still think Jonah Hill’s character is insufferable, him recognizing what he did was wrong, noting that he acted like an idiot and ultimately apologizing to his friends was a very satisfying and heartfelt way to end the movie. It also proved how much thought was put into the film, and how the characters' actions would impact them in the long run.
Even though I didn’t love this movie, I can for sure respect it, and I understand why it’s so beloved. I also can’t deny the fact that Superbad had a major influence on coming-of-age comedies, and films like Booksmart clearly have an air of this comedy in them. However, when it comes down to it, I’m going to choose just about any other coming-of-age comedy over Superbad.
I might not have enjoyed Superbad to its fullest extent, but that doesn't mean you can’t. You can stream the beloved comedy right now with a Netflix subscription.