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The UnPopular Opinion: Superbad

05.30.2012

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THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

**** SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

The request was made, and lo I have delivered. 

Hype can be a poisonous thing, and when I watched SUPERBAD for the first time only to find that I was utterly unaffected I assumed it was due the sheer weight of six months of hype.  I figured that I just needed to see it again and all would be well, that I could watch it on its own terms and appreciate what I'd missed the first time 'round.

No such luck.  My opinion hasn't changed between my first viewing and my last, with my opinion frankly being that I find this movie almost completely unfunny and a genuine chore to watch.  I'm a fan of most of the talent involved, but goddamn was it a draining and frustrating experience to watch this super bad movie.

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"You know when you hear girls say 'Ah man, I was so shit-faced last night, I shouldn't have f***ed that guy?' We could be that mistake!"

See that picture right above this line of text? That's taken from the opening credits, aka one of the very best bits of this movie.  Those credits were fun, goofy, and actually kind of clever - too bad the movie itself couldn't live up to those qualities in the least.  The credits captured a retro feel, a free feel, a brief explosion of color and character and music that I've actually had fun watching each and every time SUPERBAD somehow found its way into my DVD player.  And now I realize one of the main reasons why these opening credits are so much fun, and why I can actually have a good time while they're playing: it's because nobody's talking and there isn't any attempt at story beyond being fun.

Because it's when either of those things are happening that SUPERBAD as a whole falls flat.  In short, this script is kindasortamaybereally awful.  Reportedly Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg began writing the thing, or an initial draft anyway, when they were thirteen and had finished by the time they were fifteen.  And it f***ing shows.  It could be argued that this is exactly the type of humor many thirteen year-old boys possess, coupled with a poorly plotted story and a barely-there cast of characters.  Except it's not just the type of humor many thirteen year-old, boys possess, but rather an exaggeration of it.  SUPERBAD as a whole is the very embodiment of caricature to the point of absurdity and unrelatability, and a lot of that has to do with a few little things like acting, timing, character interaction, plot progression, and the script (again).  Some of this may have to do with what is known in certain circles as my personal opinion of what is or is not funny, but at the same time I don't think it would be wholly unfair to say that the SUPERBAD itself isn't exactly a great movie.

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"What's it like to have a gun?"
"It's like having two c***s. If one of your c***s could kill someone."

Look, I was in high school.  It wasn't even all that long ago.  And sure, I had fantasies and I swore and I wasn't always the most considerate or smooth kid around.  And there are ways in which SUPERBAD is very accurate indeed to the high school experience, awkwardness and all.  If I laughed when watching this movie, it was as often as not because something wasn't so much funny as it was true.  It was relatable, it was something I personally had experienced.  And I suppose that was part of the point in this movie - to take true experience and then feed it with the fire of fantasy.  Only it goes so overboard that most of the personal relevance is lost as the twisted fantasy takes over and drags what could have been an engaging and funny story about the high school to college transition into a place that is anything but engaging and everything but funny. 

So if we don't have real, then what does that leave us? Characters that are on the whole stupid and annoying and nasty even for teenage standards, with a few exceptions here and there.  “The funny thing about my back is that it’s on my c***.” Seriously? There’s awkward, there's raunchy, and then there’s a gross caricature of teenage fantasy wit played out by a character so loud and angry and abusive I don't know why anyone would be friends with him. Even Evan, who is meant to be a well-intentioned, smart, nice guy is annoyingly awkward.  Of our two heroes, our two main characters, Seth is mean and ugly in tone and and stupidly angry while Evan is so extremely awkward that it's just frustratingly dumb.  

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"Naw, they let you pick any name you want when you get down there."
"And you landed on McLovin..."
"Yeah. It was between that or Muhammed."

Even just from a plot perspective this movie is deeply annoying and difficult to sit through, because the plot takes boring detours for a large chunk of time during the middle of the movie and hangs out while the main conflict, story, and meaningful character interaction takes a complete backseat. And it's not just the middle chunk in which this happens - all throughout the movie can be found digressions that completely ruin any positive comedic momentum being built by the story and characters, with the most glaring example being the d***-drawing sidestory.  Because what the f*** was that about.  Seriously.  Not to mention the sloppy writing that constantly allowed for poorly placed and uninspiredly executed gags such as when Evan bitches out his phone.  It's a tried and boring gag and not at all funny in its execution.

Yes, there are a few commendably good and funny things about this movie.  The name McLovin and the fact that Fogel rocks it like nobody's business.  The two officers played by Seth Rogen and Bill Hader, despite how even they eventually overstay their welcome.  The opening credits.  The fact that it introduced Emma Stone to the wide world.  And not much else.  Crass to the point of annoyance and boring to the point of disappointment, SUPERBAD was everything I hoped it wouldn't be and just out-and-out an unfunny waste of my time.

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"Hey kid, what's your real name?"
"Fogell... it's Fogell."
"Fogell? F*** that, we're calling you McLovin."

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to ajstepenberg@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

Extra Tidbit: I am strongly of the opinion that ADVENTURELAND is what SUPERBAD could have been. At least director Greg Mottola got it right the second time 'round.
Source: JoBlo.com

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