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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The underlying message could seem to be that scoring alcohol for a party will grant even the nerdiest kid "cool" status for a night. But by the end of the film, it's clear that the film's real point is that true best friends love each other unconditionally, not selfishly.
Positive Role Models
Despite strong, unconditional friendships, the characters in this movie are too lost in their own adolescent angst and insecurity to be considered role models.
Violence & Scariness
McLovin gets pistol-whipped in the head by a robber; a fight breaks out at a party, where a few of the men suffer bloody wounds; a hobo kicks, punches, and pounds on various people at a bar; Seth accidentally punches Jules in the eye. In a daydream, Seth envisions a security guard slashing his throat. A woman's menstrual blood ends up on Seth's pants, causing a fight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex (and various sex acts), virginity, and pornography are discussed in graphic detail throughout the entire movie. The near-constant conversation about oral sex and genitalia is finally matched by two short scenes of drunk, semi-clothed teenagers about to have sex -- although neither couple finalizes the act. There's also a scene that displays many drawings of penises, supposedly done by an 8-year-old.
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The dialogue is filled with nearly ubiquitous curse words, primarily the "F-bomb" and its derivatives. There are probably two short conversations in the entire film that don't feature constant swearing; otherwise, they're the most commonly used words -- including "s--t," "dick," "p---y," "ass," "tits," "bitch," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Old Milwaukee beer, plus other liquor brands that sound familiar but aren't real, probably because real alcohol companies didn't give permission to be used in a movie about underage drinking.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The plot revolves around buying alcohol for a high school party, so there's obviously a great deal of underage drinking. Teens also smoke cigarettes and are present at a party where adults are smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine. The main drug, of course, is alcohol -- from vodka to beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this high school comedy has been marketed squarely at teens (the wide online circulation of an R-rated "red band" trailer helped a lot). Heralded as an instant-classic teen comedy on the level of Dazed and Confused or Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it seems destined to be a hit. But parents should know that, like many real teenagers, the characters are obsessed with losing their virginity and talking about sex. Sex and, to a lesser extent, booze fuel every conversation, with very graphic dialogue about genitalia, sex acts, and pornography. "F--k" (and many derivations thereof) is used almost nonstop, and there's also a lot of underage drinking and a scene of adults smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine. American Pie seems PG-rated by comparison. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Superbad is exactly what you'd expect from a Judd Apatow acolyte like Seth Rogen and his childhood pal Evan Goldberg; for starters, it's hilariously raunchy and ridiculously quotable. It's also a frighteningly realistic view of what 18-year-old high-school graduates are obsessed with -- sex, booze, and best friends. While the bad cops are funny, albeit unbelievable, the film's at its best when it focuses on Seth and Evan.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.