A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Judd Apatow's raunchy teen romp SUPERBAD centers around Seth (Jonah Hill), a potty-mouthed porn aficionado who, more than anything, wants to lose his virginity before college orientation. His BFF is Evan (Michael Cera), a mild-mannered, Dartmouth-bound guy who's equally interested in sex but not as brash about it. Thanks to a surprise pairing with his dream girl, Jules (Emma Stone), during Home Ec class, Seth gets invited to a hot graduation party. Filled with giddiness at the prospect of scoring with really drunk girls, Seth offers to buy all of the party's alcohol. He's counting on help from his and Evan's even nerdier friend, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who's just scored a fake ID with the singular name "McLovin." After the promise has been made, the film turns into an Odyssean quest for the booze and splits into two storylines -- Seth and Evan's alcohol-acquisition misadventures and McLovin's unexpected ride with two incredibly inept police officers (Rogen and Bill Hader). Ultimately, Superbad is about two inseparable best friends who are hopelessly lost without each other, even though they claim otherwise. Even if they don't get any -- they still have each other. And it's likely that in years to come, they'll have the constant adoration of teens everywhere to keep their hope for good sex and good friendship alive.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what teens think of sex, how many of their friends they think are having sex, and what parents think of teens having sex. Do teens consider it a stigma to graduate from high school a virgin? This is a good opportunity for parents to answer teens' questions about sex, drinking, and the safe, responsible way to handle both. Parents may also want to put an over-the-top comedy like this in perspective. The movie's antics come at you fast and furiously, making some of the laughs mostly about the shock value. For example, do you think real cops would ever act like the two in the movie? What other movies and TV shows have a similar comedy style? Do you think there's danger here if a viewer doesn't understand the comedy on that level?
- In theaters: August 16, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2007
- Cast: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen
- Director: Greg Mottola
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image -- all involving teens.
- Last updated: April 23, 2021
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