Movies That Everyone Should See: “Superbad”


Fogell: Yo guys! Sup?
Seth: Fogell, where have you been, man? You almost gave me a goddamn heart attack. Let me see it. Did you pussy out or what?
Fogell: No noooo, man. I got it; it is flawless. Check it!
Evan: [examining the fake ID] Hawaii. All right, that’s good. That’s hard to trace, I guess. Wait… you changed your name to… McLovin?
Fogell: Yeah.
Evan: McLovin? What kind of a stupid name is that, Fogell? What, are you trying to be an Irish R&B singer?
Fogell: Naw, they let you pick any name you want when you get down there.
Seth: And you landed on McLovin…
Fogell: Yeah. It was between that or Muhammed.


“We sat down, not knowing what we were gonna write, and the question was, well what do we know? That was all of it. Thats all we knew.” “Yeah, thats pretty much it. We knew we wanted to get laid, and we knew we liked getting drunk.”

-Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg began writing “Superbad” when they were just 13 years old. By the time they were 15, they had completed their first draft. It was loosely based on their own high school experiences, along with their friend Fogell. The two of them worked on polishing it throughout their time in high school.

Rogen, who had always wanted to be a comedian, dreamed of starring in the film himself when he was young. By age 12, he was performing comedy at bar mitzvahs and parties. He shifted to bars when he got a little older. At age 16, he won the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest. By that time he was doing stand up in a local comedy club called Yuk Yuks.

It was around then that he answered a local casting call for Judd Apatow’s upcoming television show “Freaks and Geeks”.

Freaks and Geeks

Undeclared_DVDIn spite of starring future stars James Franco and Jason Segel in addition to Rogen, “Freaks and Geeks” ran for just one season (1999-2000). In fact, NBC only aired 12 of the 18 episodes that were completed.

After its cancellation, however, Apatow was given another TV series opportunity, this time on the FOX network. “Undeclared” featured college exploits as opposed to High School, and Apatow brought Seth Rogen along again. It, too, only lasted one season (2001-2002), however.

forty_year_old_virginApatow found greater success on the big screen, though, and he became noted for giving opportunities for the young stars he had worked with on his TV projects. Rogen had landed a small part in “Donnie Darko” for his first big screen appearance, but Apatow gave him another small part in “Anchorman”. A larger part, a major one this time, awaited in Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin” (which Rogen also co-produced).

Rogen had given Apatow the script to “Superbad” in 2000, and he never gave up on it. It wasn’t just that he was attached to it due to having written it in high school, his contention was that the film was edgy and true to real experiences, so he felt that audiences would respond. At that point in time, though, neither of them had the clout to bring the script to screen.

After the success of “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, however, the way was paved.


HillBy this time, Rogen was too old to play Seth, so the role needed to be cast. Jonah Hill was already friends with both Rogen and Goldberg. He had roles in both “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up”. Knowing him, Rogen and Goldberg never considered that he could be right for the role… He struck them both as too old (Hill was 23 at the time of filming). But Hill did an impromptu screen test on the set of “Knocked Up” that impressed Judd Apatow. He got the part.

CeraHill and Micheal Cera knew each other previously, as well. Cera had had extensive experience in television, most notably in “Arrested Development”, but his film experience was limited to a bit part as the young Chuck Barris in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”. Reportedly, it was Cera’s mother (who read the script before he did) who convinced him to try out for the role. When he auditioned, he was immediately chosen for the part.

Both were perfect casting, especially seeing as their styles compliment each other so well. Hill is fast talking, boorish, and brash, while Cera is quiet, hesitant and seemingly shy. The two of them play perfectly off each other in the film, with Hill’s abrasive, non-stop, bull in a china shop dialogue complimented perfectly by Cera’s reactionary, soft-spoken, nervous skepticism.


The part of Fogell/McLovin, however, was difficult to cast. The production had a difficult search to fill the role. Christopher Mintz-Plasse impressed them immediately when he came in. What was surprising was, it was the first audition he had ever been on. “Superbad” would become his first role.

shot0008It was also the first movie for Emma Stone (although she had extensive TV experience), and the second for Martha MacIsaac (Becca). They added Bill Hader, who Goldberg and Rogen had worked with on “You Me and Dupree”, as the second Cop, and they were ready to roll. Greg Mottola was brought in to direct, as Apatow liked his work on the indie film “The Daytrippers”.

Rogen and Goldberg couldn’t believe the film was actually getting made, all the way through production.


For good reason, too. “Superbad” is a teen comedy full of crass, crude dialogue, and full of drinking and adolescent sex talk. There are 186 F Bombs in the film (1.54 per minute). According to the counter included as a special feature on the Blu ray, there are also 257 instances of “Genital, Sexual references and innuendo”.

One of the most famous scenes, of course, is when Seth reveals he was obsessed with drawing penises as a child. Close to 1,000 penis drawings were produced for the movie, but only a fraction of them were actually included in the film. They were drawn by David Goldberg, brother of screenwriter Evan Goldberg. No word could be found as to whether he actually received psychiatric counseling afterwards, as in the film.

The drawings were actually an issue for the MPAA, especially the fact that a young girl would be shown holding one (The actress playing young Becky was actually given a different picture to hold before the film cuts to the drawing). Producer Judd Apatow is quoted as saying the scene was the subject of much legal wrangling, including how erect they could be, if veins could be shown, etc.


The context of all the raunch is a single day in the life of three high schoolers. Two events converge to cause for a wild night for them: they get invited to a party hosted by an attractive, popular girl (Emma Stone’s Jules), and their friend gets a fake ID. This leads to them offering to buy alcohol in order to impress the girls, and also in hopes of getting them drunk in order to put the moves on them.

shot0027When the purchase attempt is interrupted by a robbery, however, the plan breaks down and the trio scatters. Seth and Evan are forced to try to steal alcohol from a party being thrown by dangerous, older strangers, while McLovin gets escorted around town by a couple of Cops who are more interested in partying than they are in apprehending the robber.

Whether separately or together, the three still need to find a way to get alcohol to the party, and to get with their girls once they get there.


shot0035The raunchy humor is mainly delivered through the film’s dialogue. The three boys cuss like sailors, or, actually, like high schoolers. They also espouse their views and ideas about sex through their uninformed, youthful worldview.

shot0037Which is part of “Superbad”‘s strength. Aside from the Cops in the film, who are obviously a straight up comedic addition, everything feels genuine. These are things that kids that age would say and do. Getting booze underage is a big adventure.

shot0038Young men that age will talk big about girls and then act like chickens when they’re actually around them. Even if they do get lucky enough to hook up, they don’t know what to do once they get there. For all their bravado, they are only just boys.


Underlying it all is a story about two friends being broken apart by college, which is an experience many of us can relate to. There’s bound to be varying degrees of bitterness and or resentment involved, and the movie shows that nicely. As Evan prepares to head off to Dartmouth with Fogell, Seth secretly harbors a resentment; one that manifests itself over the course of the movie. Of course, as good friends do, Seth and Evan work it out. Growing up doesn’t have to mean growing apart.

It all adds up to a film that’s funny as hell, yet feels authentic to the high school experience. The awkwardness, the craziness, the pretense of being a tough guy when you don’t really know what the hell you’re doing. That genuineness goes a long way towards giving the movie a heart beneath all of the crass humor.

“Superbad” is a quotable, ridiculously funny film that honestly replicates important facets of the high school experience. It’s got memorable characters and a story full of hysterical encounters and incidents. It’s a movie that’s worthy of joining the ranks of the greatest teen comedies of all time.

It’s definitely a “Movie That Everyone Should See“.



Daniel Fogarty

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