With the success of Apatow’s past films, it was no wonder that the long on-the-shelf script written by Seth Rogen (Officer Michaels) and Evan Goldberg was finally made into a film after Apatow decided it would be the next film he produced. Not quite as full of heart as Apatow’s past productions, Superbad did excel in areas that even Apatow couldn’t dream of; the film is relentlessly dirty, making me wonder how anything less than an R-rated version was ever possible (the DVD has extras with them recording “TV safe” lines).
Superbad tells the story of Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) who are attempting to “hook up with the girls they like” before they part their separate ways and head off to college. In their attempts they are faced with the duty of bringing the alcohol to a local party, courtesy of Fogell’s (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) new fake I.D. With the new identification in hand (and under the name of McLovin), the trio set out on their quest. Unfortunately for them, a robbery of the liquor store that McLovin resides in halts their plans and when Seth and Evan see a cop car in front of the store they book it, leaving McLovin to himself (and two very friendly cops).
The film is undoubtedly one of the raunchiest in recent years, but considering that this brand of humor has found a place in movie goers’ minds (me included), it’s no wonder that they kept pushing the envelope. If Jonah Hill’s character in Knocked Up wasn’t vulgar enough, his starring role in Superbad will leave you breathless and wondering just how someone could be that obscene with his mouth at times. Still, it’s not to say that’s a bad thing; that’s just the way the humor is in the film. Be forewarned before you see it and know what you’re getting into, that’s all I’m saying.
Superbad’s strengths lie in its ability to move from scene to scene, which, although sometimes weakened by the overall pace of the film, allows us to quickly move through the one night that the film is supposed to take place in. Unfortunately where its weaknesses lie are in that unlike other recent Apatow productions, such as 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up there was an underlying message under the movies. In Superbad the only message is that two lifelong friends are drifting apart, which is only touched upon in a few sequences. Not to say I wanted the movie laden with sap, but it almost feels shoehorned in, just to make the film have a little more substance than it actually does.
Having said that I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t enjoy the film, although I feel that the best elements of the film were already put in the trailers or early footage released on the internet; I found myself anticipating the moments I’d seen before more than the ones I hadn’t. Sure, there were plenty of other laughs in the film, but it seems the strongest ones came from the footage I’d already seen. I didn’t see the film in theaters, so what new footage was added here for the film I’m not entirely sure of. However with a run time only four minutes longer than that of the theatrical release I can’t imagine there being too much new footage spliced into the film; likely just cop car sequences, as there seemed to be a lot of that left on the floor.
Despite it not living up to my expectations, Superbad was still hilarious and completely entertaining. It’s entirely juvenile and for some may be past their age level, if only because it focuses entirely on teenagers in their final year of high school (a premise not altogether that different from American Pie). Those that are fans of Apatow’s films and enjoy the humor that only Jonah Hill and Michael Cera can bring to the screen will likely be as entertained as I was. Recommended.
Following the cues of past releases such as Spider-Man and Ghost Rider, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment confuse the hell out of consumers by releasing multiple versions of the same film. Single disc rated DVD, single disc unrated DVD, double disc unrated DVD, double disc unrated Blu-Ray and coming in a few weeks an unrated UMD. I personally think the could’ve chopped out the single disc unrated DVD and just stuck with the double, but there must be a profit margin in there somewhere that causes them to release so many different versions of the same thing.
For this review I’ll be tackling the two-disc unrated edition, which to me should be the definitive release for this film. Arriving in a standard two-disc amaray case with no inserts, Superbad comes with a cardboard slip cover and disc art that mirrors the cover art on disc one, with Officer’s Michael and Slater on the second disc. Menus for both discs are literally laden with penises…I am not making that up, that is just the way the menus were done. When the back of the package says that they’re “menus featuring more of Seth’s doodles”, they mean it. There are doodles…everywhere. Video and audio for the film is clean and clear. No compression or artifacting is noticeable in the video and the 5.1 is what you’d expect from a comedy: front channel focused and little play in the rears. French and Spanish 5.1 tracks, as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles are included as well.
Onto the extras we get our healthy doseage, per usual on Apatow DVD releases. First up is a commentary filled to the brim with cast and crew from the show. Recording in opposite sides of the United States, writers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen along with Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are in Los Angeles, while director Greg Mottola, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow and Judd Apatow’s daughter in New York. We get a hilarious mixture of behind the scenes info and just general insanity from both ends of the country and we even get what I assume is a staged “storm off” on Apatow’s part, after he and Jonah get into it about Jonah’s inability to be foul mouthed due to Apatow’s daughter being in the room. I’d have believed this outburst was real if only it wasn’t for the other, similar special features that we’ve seen along this line on past DVD sets.
Moving onto disc two (only a trailer is left on disc one) we begin our spiral into the hours of extras that are packed onto this disc. First up are a series of deleted and extended scenes (12:46) from the film; most of the scenes seemed to be extended, as a lot of them I recognized being from the actual film. There are some good scenes deleted, but with the film already two minutes shy of two hours, it’s good that these were cut out.
A short gag reel and another installment of “line-o-rama”, where there are a slew of alternate improv takes on dialogue in the film (most of this is performed by Jonah Hill), are next but one of the best things on this DVD follow the gag reel and line-o-rama and these are the “Cop Car Confessions.” Reminding me of something out of Reno 911! (and even featuring an actor from that show), Cop Car Confessions finds Officers Michael and Slater driving around freshly arrested individuals, such as Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson, Chris Kattan, Ian Roberts, Judd Apatow, Kristen Wiig, Jee Le Truglie, Ken Jeong, Adam Scott, Nick Swardson and Justin Long. Along with the hilarious dialogue that we get from these scenes, we also get two isolated sequences with only Seth Rogen and Bill Hader, which are just hilarious as well. The Officer’s were definitely one of the biggest highlights of the film and these Cop Car Confessions were the biggest treat for me on this DVD set.
Of course those are going to be a hard act to follow, but we still have a lot of good extras left. A “Making of” (13:03) is next and features a short summary of the history of the film as well as what it was like to work on it. “The Vag-Tastic Voyage” is the porno footage shot for the website of the same name referenced in the film and then we have twenty-eight minutes of table reads, ranging from pre-cast reads to final cast reads. Auditions (13:21) for Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse follow and we wrap up a section with “Snakes on Jonah” (4:46), which finds our foul mouthed actor without a voice after having his tonsils removed and some strange Australian animal/bug wranglers attempting to wrap bugs and snakes around Jonah’s body. A strange extra, but an extra none the less.
Next is the “Dancing Title Sequence” (3:17) which showcases the mad moves that Michel Cera and Jonah Hill busted out in the film’s opening credit sequence. “TV Safe Lines” has Jonah Hill fighting his urge to drop an F-bomb every other word, while “Everyone Hates Michael Cera” (6:43) continues the tradition started with Knocked Up of having cast and crew ragging on a cast member, this time it’s, of course, Michael Cera. This extra is hilarious and while uncomfortable to watch at times, even knowing it’s fake, is well worth watching.
“On Set Diaries” (17:44), “The Music of Superbad” (13:07) and “Press Junket Meltdown” (3:31) are the final extras on the second disc and wrap up the set. The first two are what you’d expect and “Press Junket Meltdown” has Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright egging on Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, eventually ending with Jonah leaving the interview. Obviously staged, but hilarious nonetheless.
Overall if you plan on picking up Superbad in the DVD format, this is the release you should go after. Packed to the brim with extras, theres no reason to choose the lesser discs over this one; like the unrated two-disc Knocked Up, Superbad – Unrated Two Disc Extended Edition is the one to own. Highly Recommended.