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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 12/4/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/29/2007
It's not unusual for my tastes to fall outside of the norm, and it's happening again. With The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, writer/director Judd Apatow has become a very hot commodity in Hollywood, and moviegoers swarmed to see both films. And yet, I wasn't really impressed by either. I saw The 40 Year Old Virgin on DVD and it didn't live up to the hype...at all. I caught Knocked Up in the theater and outside of Paul Rudd, it didn't do anything for me. (Come to think of it, Paul Rudd was the only funny thing in The 40 Year Old Virgin.) Now that Apatow has true cinema clout, he and his buddies are making more movies. Their latest, Superbad, was another box-office hit. Will this be the film that sells me on these guys?
Superbad tells the story of high-school seniors Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera). The two have been friends since they were 8 years old and they are inseparable. However, there has been some tension between them as their plans to attend the same college didn't pan out. Nonetheless, they intend to enjoy their last few days of high school. Seth gets paired with Jules (Emma Stone), a girl to whom he is attracted, in home-ec class and she informs him that she is having a party. Without thinking, Seth volunteers to bring the alcohol. Meanwhile, Evan talks to Becca (Martha MacIsaac), whom he's had a crush on for years, and learns that she's going to the party. Seth and Evan compare stories and decide that they must recruit their geeky friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to use his new fake ID (which gives his name as simply "McLovin") to buy the liquor. Seth assumes that if they can pull this off, then they will have girlfriends for the summer and finally get to have sex. However, the plan to buy the alcohol quickly goes south and Fogell finds himself involved with two crazy police officers (Bill Hader and Seth Rogen), while Seth and Evan have a run-in with a very rough crowd. Will the boys ever make it to the party?
Superbad is a film which attempts to be two movies at once. On the one hand, it wants to be a gross-out teenaged sex comedy. On the other hand, it attempts to have a more sensitive side which explores the bond between two friends. The result is a movie which wants to mix wild and heart-felt like other films in the past, but it just misses the mark.
To offset the negative vibe from this review's introduction, I do have some positive things to say about Superbad. The film was conceived by Seth Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg when the pair were only 13, and most likely because of this, some elements of the film feel very real. Seth and Evan (the characters in the film, not the writers) are typical teenaged boys who are obsessed with girls and sex. Yet, like many boys, they are knee-deep in an awkward phase and don't know how to approach girls. Even more painful, Evan is clueless when a girl is hitting on him. The two are inseparable and don't find it weird that they do everything together, even when others question it. It's this fact that has led them to struggle with the idea of going to different colleges, and they do everything to avoid discussing this subject. And I don't want to give too much away here, but the scene in which the boys find themselves at a party in an unfamiliar location which is filled wtih weird, highly-intoxicated strangers will hit too close to home for some viewers.
Those parts of the film make Superbad very approachable and somewhat unique. Conversely, it's the "wilder" parts of the movie which did nothing for me. As noted above, Fogell gets in a situation with two slacker cops, and these scenes seem to go on forever. These scenes are the deal-breakers, you will either find them funny, or you'll be like me and wonder why they are even in this movie. The story with Seth and Even should have been enough to sustain the film, but it insists on cutting back to Fogell and the cops. Is that because co-writer/co-executive producer Seth Rogen is one of the policemen? The rest of the second half of the film deals with Seth and Evan's attempts to reach the party, and this idea grows stale very quickly. We reach the point where we can't wait for them to get to the party for the simple fact that we want the movie to move on to its next plot point. The scenes with Seth and Evan do have some funny moments and Cera has a killer line during an intimate moment, but I found myself growing bored with the constant profanity at times. The movie needed less F-bombs and more cleverness.
As with the other films from Apatow mentioned above, Superbad failed to live up to the hype. If I had to compare it to another movie, it would have to be American Pie, as both feature a raunchy coming of age story. The difference comes down to how memorable the films are. When I think about American Pie, many key scenes -- Jim and Natasha, Jim and the pie, Jim's family portrait -- come to mind. With Superbad, there aren't any moments which really stand out. The movie does contain some funny moments and a few scenes really ring true, but the overall effect is a mediocre one. Superbad isn't super bad, but it isn't super great either.
Superbad uses a fake ID to get onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks fairly good, as the picture is sharp and clear. The daytime exterior scenes show a slight touch of grain, but there are no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image has a nice crispness. The picture is never overly dark, but some shots showed a lack of detail. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a pretty standard track for a comedy, as we get good stereo from the music and surround sound from crowd scenes.
Superbad has come to DVD in an R-rated version, an Unrated version, and an Unrated 2-disc version, which is what was screened for this review.
This 2-disc set is overflowing with extras. Disc 1 starts with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Judd Apatow, Greg Mottola, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. As with most group commentaries, this one is all over the place, as the guys seem to spend most of the time keeping Apatow's daughter from looking at the screen. In the interim, they talk about the creation of the story, the production, and the challenges of making a sex-romp with underage actors. The DVD houses 6 DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 10 minutes. There are some funny moments here. I can't believe that they cut out Michael Cera's dancing in favor of his singing, because the dancing is hilarious. "The Semen Conversation" (3 minutes) is simply a longer version of the scene from the film including real laughter from the actors. We get a peek at Apatow's next project with "Pineapple Express: Exclusive First Look" (4 minutes). Painful. "Line-o-Rama" (4 minutes) shows alternate takes for several scenes, and we have a "Gag Reel" (4 minutes).
The remainder of the extras are on Disc 2. "Cop Car Confessions" (34 minutes)
is a series of shorts where various familiar actors ride with Rogen and Hader,
exchanging banter. The participants include Jane Lynch, Chris Kattan (where has
he been?), Justin Long, and Nick Swardson. There's some funny stuff here, but
it's also sort of odd and one can't help but wonder whose idea this was. "The
Making of Superbad" (13 minutes) includes comments from writers,
producer, director, and actors. It also has some behind-the-scenes footage and
Hill's audition tape. "The Vag-Tastic Voyage" (1 minute) allows us to see the
entire porn site clip which is glimpsed on the computer in the movie.
Umm...what's this rated? "Original Table Read 2002" (5 minutes) features a young
Rogen and what appears to be Jason Segel in the lead roles. "Table Read 2006"
(23 minutes) shows the cast from the film going through three scenes.
"Auditions" (13 minutes) has footage of Cera, Hill, and Mintz-Plasse trying out
for their roles. "Michael's Voicemails from Jonah" (3 minutes) are four phone
messages from Hill to Cera with little notes from Cera explaining the situation.
In "Snakes on Jonah" (5 minutes) a guy who looks like Sam Rockwell puts a bunch
of animals on Jonah Hill because he had his tonsils out. What? "Dancing Title
Sequence" (3 minutes) has behind-the-scenes footage of the green-screen shoot
for the opening credits. "TV Safe Lines" (3 minutes) shows examples of scenes
which were shot twice with cleaner dialogue. "Everyone Hates Michael Cera" (7
minutes) has oddly staged clips of Cera being abused by cast and crew. "On Set
Diaries" (18 minutes) has in-camera comments from Hill, Cera, Minz-Plasse, Rogen,
Goldberg, Mottola, and others as well as a great deal of on-set footage.
"The Music of Superbad" (13 minutes) has comments from Catfish Collins, Bernie Worrell, and Bootsy Collins discussing their work with composer Lyle Workman on the film. We also hear from Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks.
"Press Junket Meltdown" (4 minutes) is a fake (?) interview where an obnoxious journalist pushes Hill and Cera over the edge.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has also brought the unrated Superbad toBlu-ray Disc in a 2-disc set. The video transfer on the disc is a 1080p HD AVC which runs at 27 Mbps. The image looks very good, doing away with the subtle grain which was found on the DVD. The picture is noticeably sharper and clearer than the DVD and the colors really stand out. Also, the daytime exteriors show a great deal of depth, while the overall image shows much more detail. The disc has both an uncompressed Linear PCM 5.1 (48 kHz, 4.6 Mbps) audio track, as well as a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (48 kHz, 1.7 Mbps). Both tracks deliver clear dialogue and sound effects, but I found the PCM to have more presence. Both tracks show a great amount of detail in the stereo effects, but as with the DVD, this comedy doesn't have the kind of sound design which creates a demo disc. The one car-wreck in the film does emit a nice subwoofer effect. The Blu-ray Disc contains the same extras as the 2-disc unrated DVD.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long