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Film / Superbad

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

Superbad is a 2007 teen comedy film written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, directed by Greg Mottola and produced by Judd Apatow. Rogen and Goldberg began working on the film when they were in high school, and named the main characters after themselves.

Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are best friends, seniors in high school who are going off to different colleges next year. It's their life's ambition to get laid before they leave high school. To achieve this, they volunteer to bring the alcohol to an end-of-the-year party where both of their respective crushes will be. They are forced to enlist the help of an annoying friend, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and his fake ID, which identifies him only as "McLovin". Trying to buy the alcohol, he is caught up in the middle of a robbery, makes friends with the cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader), and spends the rest of the night being entertained by them. (That's not a euphemism. It looks like a great time.) Seth and Evan, assuming he's been arrested, strike out on their own to find some alcohol and make it to the party... which they eventually do, except the rest of the night isn't what they were expecting it to be.

This film contains examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Played straight in one instance and inverted in another. At the climax, Evan gets together with Becca, but can't bring himself to have sex with her because she's obviously inebriated. Meanwhile, Seth gets together with Jules, who admits that she would be perfectly willing to have sex with him if he wasn't drunk.
  • Adults Are Useless: A good majority of the adults are either unhinged, ignorant, or outright indifferent. Special mention goes to the convenience store clerk, who doesn't even bother to search for evidence of Fogell's true identity and allows him to purchase alcohol without question.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Invoked. At the climax, Officers Michael and Slater admit that they knew Fogell was underage the whole time, and that they can't allow him to get drunk at the graduation party. But since they've grown to like him, they pretend to arrest him in full view of the other kids, knowing that the resultant street cred will make him a big hit with the girls.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Seth professes to be into girls and wants to sleep with Jules, but there are several signs that he might actually—or also—be into dudes. For example, when explaining to Evan why he doesn't like Becca, he reveals that one time as a child he became obsessed with drawing penises. While discussing what kind of porn they can buy without their parents finding out, he mentions that it's a problem for him if the movie doesn't show "dick going in", because he thinks a vagina on its own just looks kind of gross. Last but not least is his behavior toward Evan, which has some homoromantic overtones.
  • Asshole Victim: Officer Slater's reaction to being spat at by Jesse is a pretty severe overreaction and would be disturbing Police Brutality in any other context. But considering how much of an asshole the kid was being both then and earlier to Seth and Evan, he definitely deserved it.
  • Awesome McCoolname: McLovin, the single name on Fogell's fake ID which he chose himself because he thought it sounded cool. Multiple characters lampshade how nobody would believe that's his real name:
    Evan: It's up to you, Fogell. This guy [liquor store clerk] is either gonna think "Here's another kid with a fake ID", or "Here's McLovin, the 25-year-old Hawaiian organ donor". Okay? So what's it gonna be?
    Fogell: ...I am McLovin! Yeah.
    Seth: No, you're not! No one's McLovin! McLovin's never existed because it's a MADE-UP DUMB FUCKING FAIRY TALE NAME, YOU FUCK!
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The cops can get people to behave however they want by invoking their position's authority. For instance, they turn on their siren even though they aren't responding to an emergency, just to get other drivers out of the way and so they can go through red lights. Also done later on Fogell's behalf, where they pretend to arrest him so that he'll seem like a bad boy so that he can get more chicks.
  • Berserk Button: Slater doesn't like getting spat on, and he whacks a teen for doing so.
  • Bland-Name Product: The film includes references to fictional alcoholic products such as "Kyle's Killer Lemonade" and "Goldslick Vodka", which are parodies of the real-life Mike's Hard Lemonade and Goldschläger Schnapps, respectively.
  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow: Fogell, when he starts becoming more like his McLovin persona, is prone to this.
  • Bowdlerise: The movie aired on FX quite often, and all of the swearing was dubbed out: sometimes well, sometimes not so well. Also, the entire scene where Seth describes the reason he hates Becca (where he describes a past obsession with drawing dicks) is cut out.
  • Brick Joke: Seth derides Evan for trying to bring a condom and spermicidal lube for Becca and insists that it's "psycho shit". Later on, Fogell brings a condom and some lube for Nicola and she's happy about it.
  • Broken Treasure: Seth has to bring alcohol to a party in order to impress Jules, and manages to succeed despite many setbacks. Evan has to bring a specific brand of vodka to impress Becca, but it breaks on the way. It all works out in the end, though.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: The key to Seth's plot to more or less Date Rape Jules. It ends up backfiring, since he gets himself drunk instead, and Jules (who stays completely sober) refuses to have sex with him while he's drunk. He tries to get Evan to do the same to Becca, but Evan would rather get her to have sex with him by being honest about his feelings. When he gets to the party, Becca is already wasted and wants to have sex with him right then and there, but he decides he can't take advantage of her in this state and stops her right before she starts vomiting from all the booze she drank.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Seth is disappointed upon finding out that a once-bosomy local woman got breast reduction surgery.
    Seth: That's like slapping God across the face for giving you a gorgeous gift!
  • Captain Obvious:
    • When Seth explains why he doesn't like Becca to Evan:
      Seth: When I was a kid, I would... draw pictures of dicks.
      Evan: What?
      Seth: Draw pictures of dicks.
      Evan: Dicks? Like a man dick?
      Seth: Yes, like a man dick.
    • Again later, when Seth's car is shown to have been towed:
      Fogell: Why would you park in the staff parking lot?
      Seth: Shut the fuck up, Fogell.
      Fogell: I mean, 'cause you're not staff.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Played for Laughs when Becca calls Evan but they have a bad connection, so all she can hear is him cursing in frustration at his phone, thinking he's talking to her. She seems to have forgotten all about it by the time they meet up, which is understandable given how much she's had to drink.
  • The Chew Toy: Seth goes through a lot of humiliation throughout the film (getting hit by a car, getting covered in menstrual blood, etc.), all of which is Played for Laughs.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The word "fuck" is said 190 times, averaging 1.61 times per minute.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Officer Slater and Michaels turn off their radio, after their colleagues scream for help, implicitly leaving them to die simply for interrupting their conversation.
  • Comedic Work, Serious Scene: Seth and Evan's Platonic Declaration of Love is Played for Drama, and it's one of the more heartwarming examples of this trope.
  • Coming of Age Story: Seth and Evan start the movie at an awkward stage of adolescence where they're expected to become adults after they graduate. They're socially inept, codependent, and have immature ideas about alcohol, girls, and sex. In the end they learn from some of their mistakes, get girlfriends, and take a step towards being independent of each other.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Fogell's fake ID lacks a first name, which Seth complains is going to totally give him away.
  • Deconstruction: Of the Teen Sex Comedy. The movie makes no bones about depicting Seth and Evan's obsession with sex as weird and pathetic and the Wild Teen Party is averted with the teens acting like they would at a party in real life.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Due to his fetish for drawing penises all day, Seth was forced by his parents to forgo eating foods that remotely looked phallic (hot dogs, Popsicles, sub sandwiches, stick lollipops, bananas), with Seth saying that they were the "good kind" of food.
    Seth: You know how many foods are shaped like dicks? The best kinds.
  • D-Cup Distress: When Seth asks why a certain woman with big breasts went and got a reduction, Evan points out that she suffered a lot of discomfort and improved the quality of her life by downsizing.
  • Dirty Cop: Slater and Michaels are willing to frame other people just to cover up their antics and they frequently break the law themselves just for fun, especially when riding with Fogell.
  • Dramatic Shattering: The bottle of Goldschlick, whose breakage is devastating to Evan because it was his gift for Becca.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: While Fogell messed up on the ID, he makes a good point on the logic regarding his decision of the age he chose. Seth clearly thinks it's a valid argument as one of his later Imagine Spots has him telling a cashier he's 22 instead of 21.
    Seth: This ID says you're 25 years old. Why wouldn't you just put 21, man?!
    Fogell: Seth, Seth, Seth. Listen up, ass-face. Every day, hundreds of kids go into the liquor store with their fake IDs, and every single one says they're 21. How many 21 year olds do you think there are in this town? It's called fucking strategy, all right??
    Seth: Fool!
  • Eating the Eye Candy: There are several scenes that feature extended close-ups of a woman's cleavage, only to pan out and show one of the boys ogling her or otherwise discussing her hotness. This happens first with Evan's mom and Seth, and then with Evan staring at Becca's chest in math class.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The opening scene where Seth is chatting to Evan about his porn habits is a good one - Seth is shown to be a crude, horny teenager who's obsessed by sex and views women only as sex objects; while Evan is clearly more emotionally mature but willing to indulge his friend. We even see the first hint that Seth may not be entirely heterosexual (specifically, he's not turned on by "a vagina on its own", he needs to see "dick going in").
  • Everyone Has Standards: The two cops are willing to bend and break laws for kicks, but they draw the line at cock blocking their new friend Fogell.
  • Everybody Knew Already: After accidentally cockblocking Fogell at the party, Officers Slater and Michaels admit to him that they were fully aware that "McLovin" isn't Fogell's real name and the ID he showed them was fake. They were just playing along to try and show him that not all police officers are heartless jerks.
    "When we were your age — we hated cops."
  • Everytown, America: The film takes place in an unnamed town in Clark County, USA. As of 2019, twelve states have a Clark County and there's little evidence in the film to suggest which one it might be. Notably, those twelve states do not include California where filming actually took place.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The movie takes place over a day and a half, beginning Friday morning just before the school day and ending the next Saturday midday.
  • Fat Bastard: Seth is the unpleasant overweight friend to Evan.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • The Id: Seth — His behavior throughout the movie is mostly sparked from finding the college living arrangements in Evan's room, Evan is "bailing" on their friendship which is at least a decade-long, Becca "ratting" about the dick drawings.
    • The Superego: Evan — The superego bases its behavior off of what is socially acceptable. Evan struggles with sleeping with an intoxicated woman and is concerned about her feelings.
    • The Ego: Fogell/McLovin — He is a mix of both, he's still shy and soft-spoken most of the time but when he gets comfortable, he gets excited. For example he shoots the gun at the car and is startled naturally but once he finds out he can do it, he does it *Gangsta Style* shooting all the bullets.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Fogell, who's only in on the plan because of his fake ID, and even then the fact that the name on the ID is "McLovin" makes it less than helpful.
  • Give Geeks a Chance:
    • Complete geeks Evan and Seth end up with hotties Becca and Jules. Although Evan, despite his geeky personality, is still a hottie according to most women.
    • Fogell gets half-laid with a hottie and it's heavily implied that he's gonna get some later.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Seth and Evan, to a ridiculous degree. In fact, one of the themes the film deals with is how co-dependent they are on each other and how they're gonna have to learn to function without each other when they go to college. It is actually played with a little, in the implications that Seth might not be as heterosexual as he professes, and that his feelings for Evan might not be entirely platonic in nature.
  • Hope Spot: When the boys finally make it to a bus and are on their way to the party until the bum breaks Evan's bottle of Goldslick.
  • Imagine Spot: Seth has three of these in a row while attempting to steal alcohol at a supermarket. In one of them he gets gruesomely killed.
  • Informed Ability: Evan and Fogell got into Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in New Hampshire. However, neither of them seem to be particularly academic or intellectual, and one would assume gaining entry into a highly prestigious university meant they had (at the very least) high grade point averages. They don't really carry themselves as intelligently as you'd expect future Ivy Leaguers to.
  • Informed Attractiveness: At one point, Seth and Evan spot a woman who is allegedly very attractive and used to be very busty (she recently had breast reduction surgery). However, the audience never gets to judge for themselves because we only see her from the rear.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Fogell's explanation for choosing the name "McLovin" on his fake ID.
    Evan: What kind of a stupid name is that, Fogell? What are you trying to be, an Irish R&B singer?
    Fogell: 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 and Muhammad.
    Seth: [beat] Why the FUCK would it be between that and Muhammad?! Why didn't you just pick a common name like a normal person?
    Fogell: Muhammad is the most commonly used name on earth. Read a fucking book for once.
    Evan: Have you ever actually met anyone named Muhammad?
    Fogell: Have you ever actually met anyone named McLovin?
    Seth: No, that's why you picked a dumb fucking name!
    Fogell: Fuck you.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Seth is a repeated victim of humiliating injuries, but nothing can put him out of action: he gets hit by a car twice, cops a baseball bat to the back of the head, and collapses face first into pavement without a scratch to show for it.
  • It's All About Me: Seth can be very self-centered, disregarding other people's well-being and taking Evan for granted. Evan eventually calls him out on it:
    Evan: How fucking selfish are you? You had no problem letting Fogell take the fall back there, you obviously don't want me going to a good school...
    Seth: Fuck, man!
    Evan: So what the fuck do you want from me? I'm not gonna let you slow me down anymore, Seth!
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Evan and Fogell are accepted into Dartmouth; Seth was not and will be attending their unnamed state's university instead.
  • Jerkass: Mark and the people at his party qualify, ranging from unpleasant to downright psychotic.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Seth has an abrasive personality, insults people a lot, and behaves in a self-centered manner. But he really cares about Evan and even puts aside his hatred towards Becca for Evan's sake.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Minor case. That particular kid mentioned above received it not just for spitting on Slater, but he also insulted and spat on Seth in the beginning of the movie.
    • Seth plans on getting Jules inebriated so that she'll have sex with him Not only does he wind up only getting himself drunk, but he also learns that Jules would've hooked up with him if he hadn't gotten himself so wasted.
  • Last-Name Basis: Even Fogell's closest friends only call him by his last name.
  • Lazy Alias: Fogell get a fake ID with the obviously fake name "McLovin", no last name. He proceeds to get caught by the cops, who believe his alias and refer to him as McLovin. It turns out that they've seen right through his lie the entire time, but they pretended to go along with it because they want him to think they're cool.
  • MacGuffin: The fake "McLovin" ID gets so much mention and screen time, it's practically its own character.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Seth calls Fogell Fagell twice.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Given by Fogell when questioned by the police:
    Officer Michaels: How old are you, McLovin?
    Fogell: Old enough.
    Officer Slater: Old enough for what?
    Fogell: [strained] party.
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: Fogell gets a crappy fake ID that just says "McLovin" to buy liquor for the party. Inexplicably, it works, but the store is robbed just as he's about to pay and he has to give a statement to the police, which Seth and Evan mistake for getting busted.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: Inverted. Both Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote most of the film when they were 13, even though Seth and Evan are finishing high school.
  • Nerds Are Pervs: Geeky high school outcasts Seth, Evan, and Fogell are obsessed with getting laid before they graduate high school and leave for college. In the very first scene, Seth and Evan have a discussion about what pornography website he's planning on subscribing to.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Seth blames Becca for "ratting" on him for drawing pictures of dicks in elementary school, which resulted in him having to go to therapy. What actually happened was she accidentally came across one of the drawings after a rude classmate intentionally knocked over Seth's stuff, which understandably freaked her out and made her scream, which drew the attention of the teacher.
    • Seth also lashes out at Evan for getting into Dartmouth, complaining that they were supposed to go to the same college together. Evan retorts that going to a college like Dartmouth is a great opportunity for his future and it's selfish of Seth to expect Evan to compromise his potential just for Seth's sake.
  • Nice Guy: Evan is a very friendly guy who always tries to be kind to people, which endears him to Becca and her friends.
  • No Antagonist: The movie has no primary antagonist. There was the homeless bum, Mark & the other guests at his party, and the (unarmed) store robber, but they only have minor roles.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • We never find out exactly what "non-violent crime" Francis committed, or what sort of people his "friends" are, or why he wasn't welcome at Mark's party. It's pretty strongly implied that his "friends" are criminals of some sort, so he may know them from a previous stint in prison.
    • Seth tells his classmate Greg to piss his pants again, to which Greg replies that that was eight years ago. We don't know what exactly happened and why he wet himself.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Someone points out a red spot on Seth's pant legs, and Seth is confused about where it came from until someone else asks, "Dude, were you dancing with a chick in there?". Indeed he had been, and hilarity ensues.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: For the DVD Commentary, Judd Apatow brought his nine-year-old daughter Maude to its recording, and orders the actors not to swear in front of her. Jonah Hill restrains himself from cursing until halfway through the movie, and he proceeds to chide Apatow for "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day." After this argument, Apatow and his daughter leave to go attend a showing of Spamalot, and the remaining cast and crew begin swearing profusely immediately after their departure. Later the actors mention that she's still inside the studio. Whether or not this is true is unclear.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Officers Slater and Michaels believe that Fogell, played by 18 year old Christopher Mintz-Plasse, is a 25 year old Hawaian called Mc Lovin, no first name. They only laughed examining his fake ID because he's an organ donour. And the romp they have with Fogell shows that they are indeed pretty dumb and incompetent police officers. But toward the end of the movie, after accidentally cockblocking him, they explain to him that they knew from the start his ID was fake but played along because they remembered being geeky teens like him and wanted to look cool to him.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Combined with Potty Humor:
    Seth: Hey Greg, why don't you go piss your pants again?
    Greg the Soccer Player: That was like 8 years ago, asshole!
    Seth: People don't forget!
  • One Crazy Night: Seth and Evan want nothing more than to use a fake ID to get some alcohol that they can take to a party. An incredibly complicated all-night adventure ensues.
  • One-Track-Minded Artist: Seth's childhood obsession with drawing penises. The art itself is incredibly good, anything from political caricature to copying classic artists to showcasing inner hurt, but it's still all about penises. He still blames Becca for freaking out when she happened to see one of his pictures and causing the grown ups to find out, which resulted in his parents forcing him to go to therapy.
  • Only One Name: McLovin is the only name on Fogell's fake ID, although Fogell's real first name (or is it last name?) is never revealed either.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Seth accuses Evan of "abandoning" him while trying to steal alcohol. Then Seth gets into an argument on the fact that Evan is going to a different college when they were supposed to go together. When Evan said he was trying to do his best in school and was tired of Seth "holding him back", Seth fights him and calls Evan a wuss for not saying anything before.
  • Police Are Useless: Officer Michaels and Slater are lazy, childish cops who aren't even good at writing down details of suspect criminals and care more about having fun with their sirens, firearms and authority than serving and protecting the public.
  • Precision F-Strike: Jules, who's usually polite and soft-spoken, lets out a big angry swear after a drunk Seth accidentally headbutts her in the eye after passing out.
    Jules: What the fuck?!
  • Quest for Sex: The main characters are on a quest to lose their virginities before college as part of a Sex as Rite-of-Passage.
  • Really 17 Years Old: The characters try to pass themselves off as 21 in order to buy alcohol.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Michaels and Slater constantly wave their loaded guns around and let a drunken minor shoot at their burning patrol car.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Seth is the Red Oni who tends to get more emotional and worked up, while Evan is the more rational and level-headed Blue Oni in the pair who contrasts with Seth.
  • Senior Year Struggles: Evan and Seth are both in their senior year, and are determined to finally lose their virginities and go to a party before they graduate. However, the emotional heart of the film is the bubbling conflict between Evan and Seth because they're going to different colleges next year, signalling the end of their friendship.
  • Serious Business: Greg the soccer player takes the sport far more seriously than Evan does:
    Greg: What the fuck, Evan, we're down two points!
    Evan: Fucking calm down, Greg, it's soccer.
  • Short-Distance Phone Call: Seth calls Evan as he's on his way to pick him up for school, and they both remain on the phone for a bit after Seth gets to Evan's house and as Evan is walking outside, even though they are within earshot of each other.
  • Shout-Out: The end credits include a sampling of Seth's childhood stash of penis illustrations, which include phallic versions of everything from Mr. T to Michelangelo's David.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Seth drops the majority of the F-bombs in the film.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Becca has a mutual attraction to Nice Guy Evan.
  • Sleep Cute: Seth and Evan pull this off after going back to their room having failed/refused to get laid with Jules and Becca.
  • Stacy's Mom: Seth finds Evan's mom attractive, and expresses envy that Evan got to suck on her breasts as a baby. (Coincidentally, Evan's mom is played by Stacy Edwards.)
  • Stimulant Speedtalk: After Evan goes to a side room to use a phone, a group of older guys enter the room without noticing him and start doing blow. Once they notice him, they mistake him for the brother of a friend, and the ringleader of the bunch goes on a spiel about how he needs to sing for them.
  • Those Two Guys: Officers Slater and Michaels.
  • Unfortunate Names: Officers Slater and Michaels note that they once arrested someone legally named "Phuck". They're pretty sure the person was Vietnamese, but it's still startling to see on a license.note 
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Evan throws up on Seth in a flashback, and when Becca throws up on Jules's bed.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Fogell gets the idea to wear one to "look more mature" and gets ridiculed for it by Seth and Evan, who (respectively) compare him to Pinocchio and Aladdin.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Slater and Michaels give Fogell this for abandoning them, but Michaels gives a small one to both himself and Slater when he realized they cockblocked their new friend.
  • Wild Teen Party: Downplayed. Besides Becca and Nicola (the hottie Fogell manages to screw), everybody behaves pretty normally at the party. The adult party Seth and Evan find themselves in midway through the film is far more wild and crazy.
  • You Just Had to Say It: Evan tells Fogell to "shut the fuck up" for telling Seth he and Evan are going to the same college, sharing a dorm room.