Ten years after its initial release, Superbad continues to live on in the American zeitgeist. Like other comedy hits before it, references to the film’s jokes have gone from being hilarious, to annoying, to nostalgia-inducing, to hilarious again. And even after a decade of everyone and their mother misquoting McLovin, it’s hard to argue that the film doesn’t hold up as an accurate portrayal of that uniquely teenage obsession with being cool. In a new piece on The Ringer titled “Dick Jokes, Drunk Takes, And Best Friends: How Superbad Was Born,” writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg along with producer Judd Apatow and select members of the cast give a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Superbad, discussing the real-life chemistry that inevitably bled over into the finished product.
“Seth and Evan had an incredibly unique way of writing dialogue in the way high school people spoke,” Judd Apatow tells The Ringer of an early draft of the script which Rogen and Goldberg had begun writing years earlier as high schoolers themselves. “In the first draft I saw, it had the penis drawings, it had the period blood sequence—a lot of the big set pieces never changed.” As it turns out, the reason those elements of the film felt so real is because they were pulled from Rogen and Goldberg’s real life. Everything from the characters’ incessant swearing to their obsession with sex feels authentic because it is authentic.
After giving the writers years to rework that original script, America, with its newfound love of R-rated comedies, was finally ready to see Superbad. But first they needed to get a cast, and, for the most part, that turned out to be pretty easy. Michael Cera, Bill Hader, and others were hired practically on sight, while other roles, like Seth and Fogell, took a bit more time. Of course, at the time, no one could know that the film would eventually launch the careers of so many young stars, from Jonah Hill to Oscar winner Emma Stone. They were just having fun.
“It was a really easy set to be on,” Michael Cera recalls. “There was no judgement. And I felt really a part of a team. It’s not always like that, to feel like you have a kind of joint ownership over what you’re doing.”
That seems to be the common thread for not only the filmmakers but the theatergoers as well. Superbad, as an experience, was about enjoying time with your friends, shooting the shit like you normally would, but still having an unspoken awareness that you really loved one another. Also, there are a lot of dick jokes. But it’s mostly that other stuff.