Bright Lights Film Journal

Too Gay, or Not Gay Enough? Greg Mottola’s <em>Superbad</em>

The urge to merge with a splurge — story of my life

Personally, I think it’s just wonderful if two young men want to hold hands and shout out their love for each other from the rooftops. I mean, it’s just wonderful for them to do that.

As long as they’re straight, of course. If they’re gay, not so much. I mean, come on. I saw Brokeback Mountain. That’s enough political correctness to last a man a lifetime, and in my case it’s damn well going to.

And so it goes in Superbad, the latest “geeks get pussy” vehicle from the Judd Apatow/Evan Goldberg/Seth Rogen/Greg Mottola money machine.1Superbad has enough evasions, contradictions, absurdities, and outright falsehoods to qualify as a policy statement from the Bush Administration. Consider the plot:

Evan (Michael Cera), who must have the most exquisite male cheekbones since the young Henry Fonda, who basically looks like Cindy Crawford’s kid brother, who, moreover, is going to Dartmouth,2 is best buds with Seth (Jonah Hill), a blubbery, self-loathing retard who can barely squeeze his fat ass into Loser State Teacher’s College. They semi-tolerate superloser Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who’s also going to Dartmouth. (Evan plans to room with Fogell, but he won’t tell Seth that for fear of hurting his feelings.)

Because he hangs with Seth, Evan has never had a date and is never invited to any parties. It’s two weeks to graduation, and they’ve never fucking been laid, man! Seth’s misogynistic bellows of pain over his too, too protracted virginity are supposed to be funny, but they’re so ponderously, so monotonously smutty that one can’t help but wonder, over and over again, what the fuck Evan is doing chaining himself to this pathetic trashmouth.3

In home ec class, which they take, as Seth tells the teacher, because it’s so fucking easy so just get the fuck out of my face and give me my fucking A,4 Seth manages to get himself paired off with the ga-ga-gorgeous Jules (Emma Stone), pretty much a brunette Veronica Lake, who naturally invites him to this huge party she’s having,5 even though, apparently, she hasn’t said a word to him in the past four years. Hey, shit happens.

Later, Evan gets lucky as well, with his personal dream girl Becca (Martha MacIsaac).6 She’s going to Jules’ party too! And she wants to see Evan there! Think it can’t get any cooler? Think again! Jules gives $100 cash to buy booze for the party! She wants it! She wants it! This chick is just begging for a cum bath! Oh yeah!

The boys are so excited they run right out of math class, where the teacher hasn’t even finished explaining how “i” can be used to symbolize the square root of negative one!7) They’re that pumped!

Well, all kinds of shit goes down before the boys actually make it to the party with the booze. Seth gets hit by a car, twice (this is probably the funniest part), plus they get hassled by some wild-ass cops, and also poor Seth gets some menstrual blood on his leg, which definitely could happen.8 When they do get to the party, Becca is totally wasted and totally dying to get it on with Evan (where has she been for the last four years?), plus this other totally hot chick is totally wasted and totally dying to get it on with Fogell (where has she been for the last four years?),9 even though earlier, in this kind of embarrassing moment, Evan has to admit to Seth that he and Fogell will be rooming together at Dartmouth.10 Naturally, Evan doesn’t get laid (Fogell gets his dick wet but doesn’t actually climax, if I interpreted things correctly). As for Seth, it turns out that Jules is not wasted, so, no, she’s not really up for either a pearl necklace or a little teabagging. Damn!

None of this makes any sense, but a surprising amount of it is funny. So, yes,Superbad has enough evasions, contradictions, absurdities, and outright falsehoods to qualify as a policy statement from the Bush Administration. But, unlike the Bush Administration, it won’t kill you, torture you, or throw you in jail for the rest of your life for filling out an application form And that’s a good thing.


Superbad follows the standard “start bad, end sweet” pattern for comedies these days, with the boys accidentally hooking up with their dream chicks at the mall on the day after, and segueing into those stammering “So, you wanna do stuff, like hang out” run-on monologues, while the chicks have those sweet “he is so cute” smiles on their faces. Which means that in a month or two they’ll be, you know, holding hands and shit.

Beneath, or maybe above, it all, Superbad is really “Portrait of the Standup as a Young Man.” While Evan will go on to a big bucks career as writer / director / producer in Hollywood, Seth will go out on the road, standing in front of a brick wall, holding onto a microphone for dear life, despising both himself and the fucking audiences who won’t laugh at him but will laugh at Carrot Top. Will he kill or die? Kill first, and then die? Only time will tell.11

I won’t resist pointing out that this film perpetuates what I have previously dubbed the denippleization of American cinema. While some reviewers have compared this film to Porkys, sadly, it is not about seeing girls naked in the shower.12 Those days are gone.

  1. Apparently, these guys all knew each other or blew each other in high school. Most or all of them worked on the Freaks and Geeks cult failure TV series that I slapped around a couple of years ago. Freaks and Geeks only lasted one season, but in the past few years these guys have been rolling in the bucks with R-rated raunch fests like Ron Burgundy, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Knocked Up. []
  2. To Dartmouth, where he will devote most of his waking hours to “booting” (chugging a couple of beers and then jumping up and down until he pukes) and then go on to make millions of dollars writing for TV and film. []
  3. There is a riff about penis drawing that’s pretty funny. If you’re into penises, hang around at the closing credits, because they pop up again. []
  4. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in high school, but somehow I don’t see any teacher putting up with that kind of crap, least of all from a dumb, fat, white boy. []
  5. Evan, in the meantime, is paired off with this cute little Asian kid, and they make a perfect trifle together. (I’m pretty sure it’s a trifle; it’s got fucking ladyfingers, for Christ’s sake.) They also engage in a little face-painting, which is definitely a macho thing to do when you’re five. Is this fucking subtext? []
  6. Both Becca and Jules look, and act, like 25-year-old supermodels, except that occasionally Becca gets just a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty. I’m thinking, mood swing. []
  7. Plus, he never even gets to tell them that i raised to the ith power has an infinite number of values! And they’re all real, man! CHECK IT OUT!. (Cliff lists i to the ith as only his fourteenth favorite transcendental number — go figure — and only lists one value. For more, check out e: the story of a number, by John Maori, pp. 178-179. []
  8. The menstrual blood bit is pathetically forced, not even that gross, and way not funny. Besides, real men don’t get menstrual blood on their leg, if you know what I mean. At least, I didn’t. []
  9. But if these chicks were so hot to trot, why did they not wear front-hook bras? The lack of attention to detail here is disturbing. []
  10. “Why do we have to hide our relationship?” asks Fogell. Surprisingly, he and Evan do not end up shouting out their love from the rooftops. []
  11. If Seth is lucky, he could end up at Michigan State University. Recently, Radar magazine ran a bit on America’s worst colleges, including some rather cheap shots at MSU, inspiring this explosion of Spartan Spirit:

    Let me just say to whatever cocksucking pansy wrote this review that he has no fucking idea what he is talking about. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence, in a beautiful campus setting, makes for pretty damn good education in my book. I am sorry that we aren’t some liberal art school where the biggest problems facing male students is how to come out to our roommate and convince him to let us go down on him. Or maybe some west coast, hippie, save the fucking whales, follow phish, do-gooders that want to complain about this country all day instead of doing something about it. Let me tell you something; Every Spartan I know is better suited for the real world because they had a social life AND finished their degree. So when it comes time to have a drink with the boss and maybe score points, a Spartan might be able to talk about more than the oppression of little tribal island that nobody gives a fuck about. Furthermore the arrest statistics should take into effect the size of MSU (45,000 students), but that doesn’t matter. Know why? SPARTANS LIKE TO GET ARRESTED!!!! It is a rite of passage! The 3rd best Halloween party at MSU every year is in the East Lansing Jail. As for drugs? This is fucking college! I did enough drugs to kill an entire tribal island during college. Screw you! Bitches like fucking on ecstasy, and we help them do that. And I don’t care what you say. Nothing is sexier than a coked up, drunk sorority slut. So who is the best? Michigan? Michigan girls drive to State to get fucked in the ass on a daily basis. Oh and by the way. . . . I have been to jail, for a while. So when I find who you are I am going to fuck you in the ass. I hope you are a guy. Stay the fuck out of East Lansing. []

  12. OK, that was an awfully cheap shot. Porkys was a pretty damn lousy movie. Superbad, I must admit, is better than Porkys. []