Superbad confronts what it means to change: the main characters are in the liminal state of adolescence, they will undergo a physical change of scenery upon conclusion of high school, and they are mostly motivated to undergo a state change of sorts in losing their virginities. The beauty of the film lies in the ability of the director and writers to display the struggles of the relatable characters while making the audience laugh on a regular basis.
Superbad begins with a disheartened group of students motivated to accomplish a goal that has little to no implications outside of perceived popularity and status. Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are committed to losing their virginities before attending different universities upon the conclusion of high school. Their motivation is strong, which leads Seth to make a promise he legally cannot uphold: purchasing the alcohol for the end of the year party. Now in a bind, they enlist the help of a friend with a fake ID in order to fulfill the promise Seth made to his crush Jules. Early on in the movie, many teenage issues are already present: love interests, sexual motivations, underage drinking, peer pressure, and manipulation of “friendship” for personal benefit. Just as these issues are brought to light, the comedic relief heightens through an unrealistic interaction. To summarize, McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the aforementioned friend with a fake ID, enters the liquor to buy the liquor and looks to be successful until a robbery ensues and he is trapped inside. The cops arrive just as the realistic nature of this film begins to decrease. Instead of arresting McLovin, the cops take him on joy-ride full of illegal activities that are all quite humorous. Meanwhile, Seth and Evan are frantic, believing that their friend has been arrested and still stuck without alcohol. Many more comedic scenes take place, of which I will not elaborate, and finally the students make their way to the party when the issues previously mention all heighten and are resolved, in one way or another. Superbad capitalizes on teen stereotypes to generate a hilarious film with productive commentary on the experience of the American teenager.
Thesis: As a teen film, Superbad (Mottola 2007) relies heavily on different identification mechanisms to provoke and discuss real-life issues surrounding the adolescent experience while maintaining an ever-present sense of comedy to prevent the film from becoming all too real.
Topic Sentence 1: The film works to place the audience in the spectator role through stereotypical settings that align with popular culture’s understanding of what it means to be a teenager.
Topic Sentence 2: Greg Mottola routinely mocks or criticizes positions of authority in an attempt to capture the sense of defiance commonly associated with teenagers.
Topic Sentence 3: Masterfully executed comedic relief prevents the film from heavy-handed commentary on the struggles of adolescence but dually maintains the ability to feel realistic.