DVD Review: 'Superbad'
A trite writer would say the special features are actually Super-Good
Although "Knocked Up" may have been a more polished, sweet, mature film, when it comes to audacity and the purity of its puerility, "Superbad" is mighty hard to top.
I'd say that on its surface, "Superbad" is just a rambling one-night odyssey about two guys (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) trying to secure booze for a high school party in the hopes of getting laid, but "Superbad" doesn't really go in for subtext. Throw in an uber-nerd named McLovin (comic MVP Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a couple rambunctious cops and the purplest prose this side of a Penthouse Forum letter and what you see is what you get from Greg Mottola's film.
Another Apatow-produced tribute to the wondrous potential of being a young, geeky, white, middle-class (plus Jewish and Canadian in Seth Rogen's case) male (again the distaff stars fall short of well-rounded), "Superbad" buries a true affection for all of its characters within its profane exterior. It's that warmth -- more obscured here than in "Knocked Up" -- that probably carries "Superbad," explaining how a movie starring people who look like Hill, Cera and Mintz-Plasse (i.e. "normal" and then some) could have made well over $100 million.
Ostensibly scripted by Evan Goldberg and "Knocked Up" leading man Rogen, who also dons a handlebar moustache as one of Clark County's Finest, "Superbad" follows in the semi-improvised tradition of other Apatow productions. It's a process that leaves the films feeling loose, natural and long-winded (at 118 minutes, "Superbad" is pushed well beyond the limits of its plot) and that also yields a treasure trove of potential DVD features.
The two-disc unrated extended edition of "Superbad" premieres on DVD on Tuesday (Dec. 4) and the cornucopia of extras is sure to please the devoted aficionados of the film, particularly ones who like penis doodles with their menus.
The first disc is limited to the feature itself, plus a crowded bi-coastal commentary track that includes Hill, Mottola, Goldberg, Rogen, Mintz-Plasse, Cera and Apatow. It's a rowdy, frequently overlapping commentary made extra amusing by the presence of Apatow's nine-year-old daughter in the New York recording booth, restricting the blue language from half of the participants.
Owners of the "Knocked Up" and "40-Year-Old Virgin" DVDs will recognize the format for many of the extras on the jam-packed second disc. In addition to the typical assortment of deleted and extended scenes, plus the usual gag reel, there's also the "Line-O-Rama" feature that demonstrates just how far afield the stars were willing to go when Mottola opened the improvisation floodgates.
It's telling that while the second disc includes a straight-forward making-of featurette (plus straight-forward on-set diaries), that doc's 13-minute running time pales in comparison to more freewheeling featurettes like "Cop Car Confessions." In "Confessions," Rogen and Bill Hader's officers of the law pick up a series of recognizable comic actors and enjoy mini adventures. Highlights include Chris Kattan in a squirrel suit, Adam Scott as a perp engaged in a one-man boner contest and Justin Long as a movie star who sure sounds an awful lot like Matthew McConaughey.
A series of shorter segments blur the lines between fiction and reality. In "Snakes on Jonah," for example, Hill is forced to face his fears of snakes, spiders, toads and Australian animal wranglers, while "Everyone Hates Michael Cera" reveals that although the "Arrested Development" though he was getting along with everybody in the production, he was actually held in low-regard. Real-life porn stars Jenna Haze and Aurora Snow team with Apatow in "The Vag-Tastic Voyage," an episode allegedly taken from the porn site featured in the movie. We assume that not everybody really hates Cera and that Apatow spends only a little time being spanked in the back of vans by adult film stars. Hill's creature-phobias looked mighty genuine.
Another small treasure is a few minutes from original 2002 table read for "Superbad," in which Rogen played Seth, Jason Segel took the Cera role and Martin Starr was McLovin.