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The UnPopular Opinion: Superbad

May. 30, 2012by:

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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.

Superbad UnPop 1

"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.

Superbad UnPop 2

"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.  

Superbad UnPop 3

"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.

Superbad UnPop4

"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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12:11AM on 05/31/2012

Back To Form

While I do disagree (although the movie is a bit overpraised/ over-hyped), this was a much better column than last week's. Very well articulated and I was able to follow the reasoning the whole way down. Yay!
While I do disagree (although the movie is a bit overpraised/ over-hyped), this was a much better column than last week's. Very well articulated and I was able to follow the reasoning the whole way down. Yay!
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-13
4:04PM on 05/30/2012
Most overrated comedy ever!
Most overrated comedy ever!
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3:31PM on 05/30/2012
I find this article strange because I have not met one person who does not like this movie. To me no matter how many times I watch it gets funnier & funnier.
I find this article strange because I have not met one person who does not like this movie. To me no matter how many times I watch it gets funnier & funnier.
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3:28PM on 05/30/2012
Whatever. I'm not gonna get my panties in a bunch because someone has a different opinion on a film than I do. He didn't like Superbad, but loved Adventureland, good for him. I'm the complete opposite. You say Coen bros comedy, I say Farrelly bros comedy. Either way, this article shows more personal preference rather than actual arguing points.
P.S. the "d***-drawing sidestory" had me and everyone I know in stitches. Crude? Yes. Hilarious and memorable? Absolutely.
Whatever. I'm not gonna get my panties in a bunch because someone has a different opinion on a film than I do. He didn't like Superbad, but loved Adventureland, good for him. I'm the complete opposite. You say Coen bros comedy, I say Farrelly bros comedy. Either way, this article shows more personal preference rather than actual arguing points.
P.S. the "d***-drawing sidestory" had me and everyone I know in stitches. Crude? Yes. Hilarious and memorable? Absolutely.
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12:38PM on 05/30/2012
The only aspect of "Superbad" that I enjoyed were the few parts with the cops.
The only aspect of "Superbad" that I enjoyed were the few parts with the cops.
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11:27AM on 05/30/2012

Unrated version is worse than R-Rated version

I agree the movie has some problems -- mostly involving the cops in the last third of the movie. But most of the complaints in this article sound like he watched the Unrated Version. The R-Rated version is the intended version, and it's much better.

Sadly, studios have been adding BACK IN scenes that were originally not included because they didn't work. The Apatow crew are known for ad libbing, so there was a lot of stuff meant to stay on the cutting room floor.

In the Unrated Version,
I agree the movie has some problems -- mostly involving the cops in the last third of the movie. But most of the complaints in this article sound like he watched the Unrated Version. The R-Rated version is the intended version, and it's much better.

Sadly, studios have been adding BACK IN scenes that were originally not included because they didn't work. The Apatow crew are known for ad libbing, so there was a lot of stuff meant to stay on the cutting room floor.

In the Unrated Version, they go too far with some of the jokes, Seth is a little too evil, Evan is a little too awkward, and the cops go even further with their ridiculousness.
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11:15AM on 05/30/2012
I still like it. But there are two many Rogen/Hader scenes that seem too long and almost badly ad-libbed to me. I also get so easily irritated by the shady, loser, partying adults whose party they crash.
I still like it. But there are two many Rogen/Hader scenes that seem too long and almost badly ad-libbed to me. I also get so easily irritated by the shady, loser, partying adults whose party they crash.
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10:28AM on 05/30/2012
Superbad is funny and has alot of great one liners, but it's not as funny as everyone says it is. It's funny, but not the first comedy I would watch when I am in the mood to laugh.
Superbad is funny and has alot of great one liners, but it's not as funny as everyone says it is. It's funny, but not the first comedy I would watch when I am in the mood to laugh.
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+24
9:45AM on 05/30/2012
I don't think "disagree" is a strong enough word, here. One of my favorite memories from senior year in college was randomly going to see Superbad on a Friday with a couple of my friends, and having one of the best and most hilarious theater experiences I've ever had. Even now, several years and more than several viewings later, it makes me laugh so hard. I guess humor is just like horror, what we enjoy can vary so wildly from person to person. Adventureland was good, but it was SUCH a
I don't think "disagree" is a strong enough word, here. One of my favorite memories from senior year in college was randomly going to see Superbad on a Friday with a couple of my friends, and having one of the best and most hilarious theater experiences I've ever had. Even now, several years and more than several viewings later, it makes me laugh so hard. I guess humor is just like horror, what we enjoy can vary so wildly from person to person. Adventureland was good, but it was SUCH a different movie that comparing the two doesn't make much sense to me. That's like comparing Tangled to The Lion King.
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-27
9:22AM on 05/30/2012
Totally agree, awful awful movie.
Totally agree, awful awful movie.
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9:06AM on 05/30/2012
My problem I think is the same as with most high school comedies. I came from home-schooling, which meant I was much more into individuality, and spent two years at a charter school when charter schools were new, before getting my GED from the community college. So while Superbad got raves from pretty much everyone at the time, when I saw it, it was funny, but I was always at arm's length from caring about these characters. I found "Knocked Up" much easier to relate to.
My problem I think is the same as with most high school comedies. I came from home-schooling, which meant I was much more into individuality, and spent two years at a charter school when charter schools were new, before getting my GED from the community college. So while Superbad got raves from pretty much everyone at the time, when I saw it, it was funny, but I was always at arm's length from caring about these characters. I found "Knocked Up" much easier to relate to.
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7:42PM on 05/30/2012
Why so many thumbs down for the home school guy just cuz he couldn't relate as most as others? I did go to public school, but I never had the real life version of Cartman as my friend so I guess I can't relate that well either.
Why so many thumbs down for the home school guy just cuz he couldn't relate as most as others? I did go to public school, but I never had the real life version of Cartman as my friend so I guess I can't relate that well either.
4:47PM on 05/31/2012
I don't have a better excuse for not being into it. I will say I totally relate to "Adventureland" though.
I don't have a better excuse for not being into it. I will say I totally relate to "Adventureland" though.
7:46AM on 05/30/2012
I remember buying this as a blind purchase because of all the hype surrounding it. In the end after watching it, I couldn't stand at all no one in the movie the leads, the supporting people no one until much much later. It also was the last time I made blind purchases of movies to video.

Case in point, because of this movie, I didn't like Emma Stone until around Zombieland, after Superbad I just refereed to her as "female Jonah Hill" it left that bad a taste in my mouth.
I remember buying this as a blind purchase because of all the hype surrounding it. In the end after watching it, I couldn't stand at all no one in the movie the leads, the supporting people no one until much much later. It also was the last time I made blind purchases of movies to video.

Case in point, because of this movie, I didn't like Emma Stone until around Zombieland, after Superbad I just refereed to her as "female Jonah Hill" it left that bad a taste in my mouth.
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+9
6:43AM on 05/30/2012
Meh. I thought Superbad was both funny and over hyped. It is not a movie I love so much that I'll argue about it.

ET: Adventureland was an excruciating way to spend five hours. (It was five hour long right? It felt like at least five hours.)
Meh. I thought Superbad was both funny and over hyped. It is not a movie I love so much that I'll argue about it.

ET: Adventureland was an excruciating way to spend five hours. (It was five hour long right? It felt like at least five hours.)
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7:49AM on 05/30/2012
I felt the exact same way about ADVENTURELAND the first time I watched it, but on subsequent viewings my opinion (obviously) shifted.
I felt the exact same way about ADVENTURELAND the first time I watched it, but on subsequent viewings my opinion (obviously) shifted.
8:39AM on 05/30/2012
I agree about Adventureland. I didn't know what to expect, but I could not wait for it to end. However, I may give it another shot as some movies I hate the 1st viewing, then end up loving it.
I agree about Adventureland. I didn't know what to expect, but I could not wait for it to end. However, I may give it another shot as some movies I hate the 1st viewing, then end up loving it.
+16
6:41AM on 05/30/2012
the saying goes "to each his own", and this article is proof of it. you say potatoe i say potato, you did not like the movie i thought it was great!
the saying goes "to each his own", and this article is proof of it. you say potatoe i say potato, you did not like the movie i thought it was great!
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5:14AM on 05/30/2012

sorry dude, each his own opinion.

Especially in the realm of comedy. Sense of humour is a very personal(and often irrational) thing. Personally I love art house films often even over blockbusters, but at the same time I can't help but laugh my ass of over Freddy Got Fingered. Which know is terible and hated by most. But as for Superbad, I figured it was overhyped. But I fucking love the film. To me it's quite hilarious from beginning to end and the lead characters felt sort of real to me. But like I said to each his(or her)
Especially in the realm of comedy. Sense of humour is a very personal(and often irrational) thing. Personally I love art house films often even over blockbusters, but at the same time I can't help but laugh my ass of over Freddy Got Fingered. Which know is terible and hated by most. But as for Superbad, I figured it was overhyped. But I fucking love the film. To me it's quite hilarious from beginning to end and the lead characters felt sort of real to me. But like I said to each his(or her) own opinion.
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4:54AM on 05/30/2012
I probably found it a bit funnier than this opinion, but I do agree that it was over-hyped and found gag about the period blood on the leg really unfunny.
I probably found it a bit funnier than this opinion, but I do agree that it was over-hyped and found gag about the period blood on the leg really unfunny.
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3:52AM on 05/30/2012

KINDA TRUE

Superbad isn't great but it certainly makes you wonder about your childhood and how things rarely change for any teenager. Same with 21 Jump Street it works well blending lead characters into high school but falls flat when it has to get down to police work.

Superbad isn't great but it certainly makes you wonder about your childhood and how things rarely change for any teenager. Same with 21 Jump Street it works well blending lead characters into high school but falls flat when it has to get down to police work.

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3:51AM on 05/30/2012
This truly is an UNPOPULAR opinion. Couldn't disagree more with this.
This truly is an UNPOPULAR opinion. Couldn't disagree more with this.
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3:40AM on 05/30/2012

21 Jump Street...

...is going to have a future Unpopular Opinion on here too, with people defending it for no reason. These movies are guilty pleasures, don't try to argue what makes them great films.
...is going to have a future Unpopular Opinion on here too, with people defending it for no reason. These movies are guilty pleasures, don't try to argue what makes them great films.
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2:34AM on 05/30/2012
This film to me is an icon of high school comedy and it introduced me to two of my current favourite actors who are Jonah Hill and Emma Stone. ADVENTURELAND on the other hand just didn't connect with me, Kristen Stewart was a big part of that non-existent connection.
This film to me is an icon of high school comedy and it introduced me to two of my current favourite actors who are Jonah Hill and Emma Stone. ADVENTURELAND on the other hand just didn't connect with me, Kristen Stewart was a big part of that non-existent connection.
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2:44AM on 05/30/2012
I'm so with you on this. If a movie doesn't want me to connect with it's female protagonist/love interest then they should cast Kristen Stewart, she's the worst. Cardboard personality and no body, I have no idea why she has a career.
I'm so with you on this. If a movie doesn't want me to connect with it's female protagonist/love interest then they should cast Kristen Stewart, she's the worst. Cardboard personality and no body, I have no idea why she has a career.
2:27AM on 05/30/2012
Well written argument but I couldn't disagree more. I was 24 when I saw this movie 5 times at test screenings because it more than spoke to me, it validated every thought and want I had as a geeky high school virgin. Seth and Evan were some bizarre combination of myself separated and spit out into celluloid. I was totally the kid that would lie about their weekend to seem cool or make awkward inappropriate jokes to girls I had crushes on because I didn't know how to deal. I had friends like
Well written argument but I couldn't disagree more. I was 24 when I saw this movie 5 times at test screenings because it more than spoke to me, it validated every thought and want I had as a geeky high school virgin. Seth and Evan were some bizarre combination of myself separated and spit out into celluloid. I was totally the kid that would lie about their weekend to seem cool or make awkward inappropriate jokes to girls I had crushes on because I didn't know how to deal. I had friends like Fogel/McLovin that I would put down just because of my own insecurities who would move on to better things and had stories that were far more epic than my normal Saturday nights. The real Apatow movie Unpopular Opinion should tackle next is 40 Year Old Virgin. I still don't get the appeal of that one.
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2:35AM on 05/30/2012
Agreed, of all the Apatow flicks, 40-year old virgin hasn't (forgive the pun) aged well at all. Its still funny (and introduced most of us to Seth Rogen & Kat Dennings) but doesn't resonate like Knocked Up, Funny People, Pineapple Express, or Superbad.
Agreed, of all the Apatow flicks, 40-year old virgin hasn't (forgive the pun) aged well at all. Its still funny (and introduced most of us to Seth Rogen & Kat Dennings) but doesn't resonate like Knocked Up, Funny People, Pineapple Express, or Superbad.
2:48AM on 05/30/2012
@TarantinoDork- 40 Year Old Virgin doesn't even resonate with the Apatow shows Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared. It's the least Apatowish of anything his crew has done yet was such a success.
@TarantinoDork- 40 Year Old Virgin doesn't even resonate with the Apatow shows Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared. It's the least Apatowish of anything his crew has done yet was such a success.
2:03AM on 05/30/2012

nope nope nope

i'm 32 and i still think this movie is funny, and kind of cute. movie deserved the money it made.

and as far as you saying "I am strongly of the opinion that ADVENTURELAND is what SUPERBAD could have been" i don't agree. Both "comedies" have completely different context of humor. I love, love love love "Adventureland" but I'm glad "Superbad" was not like it. I seriously loved Adventureland.
i'm 32 and i still think this movie is funny, and kind of cute. movie deserved the money it made.

and as far as you saying "I am strongly of the opinion that ADVENTURELAND is what SUPERBAD could have been" i don't agree. Both "comedies" have completely different context of humor. I love, love love love "Adventureland" but I'm glad "Superbad" was not like it. I seriously loved Adventureland.
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2:00AM on 05/30/2012
I hated this movie and I agree with a lot of what you said
I hated this movie and I agree with a lot of what you said
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1:54AM on 05/30/2012

I'm gonna go draw pictures of dicks...

This movie basically WAS high school to me. This is my Dazed & Confused. My Breakfast Club.

Seth's constant lashing out at his friends to mask his own hurt feelings. Evan's impulsive lying about what you did last weekend just so you don't look lame. Seth holding a grudge against Becca for crap that happened in elementary school. Trying to impress people you don't even like. Eating dessert alone like I'm Steven Glansberg.

But most importantly, its that moment at the end of the
This movie basically WAS high school to me. This is my Dazed & Confused. My Breakfast Club.

Seth's constant lashing out at his friends to mask his own hurt feelings. Evan's impulsive lying about what you did last weekend just so you don't look lame. Seth holding a grudge against Becca for crap that happened in elementary school. Trying to impress people you don't even like. Eating dessert alone like I'm Steven Glansberg.

But most importantly, its that moment at the end of the film...after the party when Seth & Evan run into Jules & Becca at the mall. All of them finally able to put aside the awkwardness, talk to each other, and advance their relationships. That right there is my fondest memory of high school, how in the last few months, when all the pressure was off and we sensed the light at the end of the tunnel, I was able to connect with really good people and develop some genuine relationships.

I think certain columnists had a way easier time in high school than I did.
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