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Friday, August 8, 2008

SUPERBAD: Worst Movie Ever

I have been on a weird, elliptical mission for many years now. If there is a movie I haven't seen, I make a point to see it. It's frustrating because the more movies I watch, the more movies I realize that I haven't seen. So it's like some kind of exercise in a weirdly fun frustration. Sometimes it's an exercise in self-flagellation - I see a movie, realize how very great it is and beat myself up for having missed something so good when it first came out and other times it's punishing - really? REALLY? This is what everybody has been talking about?

That doesn't happen with older movies as much but sometimes you watch something like, say, Grand Hotel, with Greta Garbo and it kind of bursts a bubble - she actually says "I want to be alone" so many times in that movie that it becomes slightly funny. Or you watch, say, Gilda and you think DAMN Rita Hayworth was a beautiful woman, even in black and white! The thing with older movies is that I truly have pretty much seen almost every good one so now I'm down to the ones I haven't seen because they pretty much sucked. So that's never fun. People think that older movies are always classics but know this - for every HARVEY or TWELVE ANGRY MEN there are like a thousand SHE ATE HER PARENTS RAW!

Wait - major digression - in screenwriting-land, we all-cap movie titles so I should have written GRAND HOTEL - and, as you have noticed, I usually do. In coverage reports, the movie title is not all-capped. I suspect because it there is a slight caste-system judgment going on - this is not a MOVIE yet, it's just a script. I don't know man, I don't make these rules up, I just follow the conventions. But in magazines such as EW, movie titles are generally italicized. So what's a Wave-inatrix to do? Fine. I'll keep all-capping since we're all used to that.

So anyway, here is a short list of movies I've been catching up on lately:

BEOWULF - The story took massive liberties and it looked like a video game but loved it!

AUDREY ROSE - 70s reincarnation movie has not aged well. Not scary and not even campy.

THE DESCENT - Wow, I loved this movie! Girl power! Clever! Simple! Scary as hell!

THE INVASION - Great build up, Kidman is beautiful, but not as good at the 70s remake with Donald Sutherland.

IN BRUGES - I absolutely freaked out with joy. What a great movie. Plus I met Colin Farrell once, on the set of S.W.A.T. I'll always have that sweet five minutes on the set of S.W.A.T.

RAT RACE - Okay I'm lying, I've seen that one before. What an underrated, high-larious movie.

HIGHLANDER - this falls under the category of REALLY?

10,000 B.C. - yeah you read that right. The Mini-W and I thought it would be a hoot. Not even.

SUPERBAD - Ah. And now we come to the subject of this post. Woops, I kind of gave away the store already, in the blog post title. Damn it!

Here's the the thing, I loved 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN. I liked KNOCKED UP. I can't wait to see THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (where are the short scene submissions, by the way, are we holding out?) and TROPIC THUNDER. FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL is on my list of hall-of-shame-I-should-have-seen-that-by-now. (See how annoying the all-caps get?) I secretly have a crush on Seth Rogen. Michael Cera is the best - loved him in Arrested Development and in JUNO. I've loved Paul Rudd for years but particularly after CLUELESS not to mention ANCHORMAN. I want to be as cool as the Apatow guys, I really do.

But SUPERBAD was an awful movie. I'm not going to go all Betty Friedan, Susan Faludi, Naomi Wolf, Camille Paglia on you here but - yes I am. Misogyny, anyone? How about a little side of contempt for women to go with that? And a nice dollop of dehumanizing objectification right on top. How about some nice, deep fried, completely unfunny, uncharming little-boy whining and freakish obsession with getting laid? Yeah, yeah, I know that all men, regardless of age are obsessed about getting laid. I'm from Planet Earth too.

I have a good friend who is - no nice-ing this up - a prude. She walked out of SUPERBAD. When I sat down to watch it the other evening, I did so thinking I was ever so much cooler than she is. Walked out? Hello? Welcome to the 21st century, babe! We can talk about sex at the movies! It's life, man! I'm a woman of today, I can laugh right along with the boys. Damn straight.

My laughter died in my throat. Quickly. Yeah, yeah the McLovin thing is funny. Ba-dump dump. Tish. But the rest - the rest was offensive beyond the pale to anyone with a vagina. I'm sure there were women who laughed along, I am not making a sweeping generalization (well, kind of) but what bothers me about this movie is the Emperor's New Clothes thing. Apatow reigns supreme (though I suspect, like anything and anyone in Hollywood, his time is limited) and nobody can just speak the truth about this awful, unfunny movie. All things Apatow are not funny. I know that my secret rush, Rogen, wrote Superbad, not Apatow. In fact, in IMDB I don't see Apatow directly related to SUPERBAD at all. But you know he was - somehow. So let's not finger (aha! ha.) Apatow but I do blame him for opening this can of unfunny, juvenile man-boy worms currently enjoying box office take at the theater.

Did I take offense x1000 because I have a teenaged daughter, who is, in theory, the generalized object of this kind of tripe? Of course. Because it's the same shit, generations later. Women are for screwing. And it's funny, right? Adolescent boys are funny. Right? Look, you have to give teen sex movies their due - they scratch an itch and they always have. But this is one woman who is going to just say it - Apatow and his crew need to grow the hell up. It's not funny anymore. I think Apatow has a daughter. Can't remember. But he does have kids and if one is a girl, I give him about 8 or 10 more years before he looks back in abject shame.

The Hathor Legacy
Women and Hollywood

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PJ McIlvaine said...

Loved the "vagina" comment, ROTFLMAO!!!

Just so you know, my three girls loved SUPERBAD, so there you go.

Julie Gray said...

I was going to say uterus but then I thought - why not? Vagina. Say it! They're vag-tastic!

As for your girls, I'm sure they are not in the minority. But what I believe is happening here is that young girls are not really seeing what is going on. They aren't discriminating; they think it's funny because their friends do and it's acceptable. A second look, when they are older will probably be an appalling experience for them. Maybe not. Maybe I'm just an old guard feminist. You know, the crazy type that believes women are as valuable as men.

Taisha said...

Whether women agree with how these boys objectify women is really not the point. I thought the moview was very funny and I'm a 38 year old woman with no peer group to influence me. But I also taught junior high and was greeted in class each day by a new song from one of my male students regarding what he and I could and would possibly do (yuk!) in the back of my truck. :-) Literally sex is all that young boys think about unless you force them to consider something else; and usually they find a way to bring it right back to sex.

Jay said...

I understand how some of Superbad could be off-putting. But consider for a moment that to do an adolescent boy story that is truthful, women have to be THE GREAT UNKNOWN. What I recall Superbad doing well (though my memory may be wrong) is that they rarely, if ever, invited the audience to objectify or leer along with the boys at the female objects of their desire. The audience is always firmly pushed away and meant to regard the way they boys are behaving and utterly clueless. Compare that to, say, any scene of whats-her-name in Transformers.

The other thing that separates Superbad from most other movies of its ilk is how straight on (pun intended) they tackle the homosexual subtext. It's barely even subtext. If anything, Superbad can almost be seen as a genre parody, where the female objectification is backgrounded to the sexually-charged connection of the two male leads.

Kirkland said...

As I guy (reaches into his pants to reassure himself), I found Superbad to be an awful movie. Worst movie ever? Dunno. There have been some pretty bad movies over the years.

I like smart comedy, give me Elaine May over Judd Apatow (and friends) any day.

Any fool and write a dick joke movie, but it takes true talent to write smart comedy. And Apatow & Co ain't writing smart comedy, they're just writing to the lowest common denominator.

Wenonah said...

Awww, Julie! My vagina and I laughed at SUPERBAD ... but sometimes it does that and I just have to let it. "We" didn't like KNOCKED UP, though so maybe it's just then number of pre-movie cocktails to grease the wheels a bit. I still love ya (in a non-stalkerish way)


Julie Gray said...

Jay - great point, well made. I noticed it too. Cupcake for you!

Kirkland - spot on as usual. Cupcake for you too!

Wen - who loves ya?

Christian M. Howell said...

We share two things about the movie. I didn't think it was all that funny and I also wonder if any of these "moguls" have daughters and how they look them in the eye with some of the drivel that is put out objectifying women.

Yes, we know some men are like that but it isn't what we want to be our general ideal.

The "period leg" was possibly the most offensive thing ever.

Anonymous said...

Hey all,

I lived a life like Superbad in high school and in college but not at my full time job.

I'm sure there is a version of "Superbad" about women and how they behave badly, just no screenwriter have written it yet. I could be wrong.

I would ask the writers to research it -- a "Superbad" culture about women does exist....

Just chilling out with a "mango salad and a beer". Good weekend to all.

BinkyM said...

Julie, you wrote 3162 characters on SUPERBAD saying it's bad, but that's all you said. You didn't present your arguments as to why you feel that way. As a writer, surely you're able to enumerate the reasons why you feel this way. Simply saying "It's the worst movie ever" doesn't cut the mustard. When you tell your friends not to rent it and they ask why they shouldn't, surely you don't respond, "Just DON'T!"?

(And I, by the way, felt it was one of the sweetest movies about teenage friendship ever written. The scene with Jonah Hill carrying Michael Cera to safety, and then their making their heartfelt admissions in their sleeping bags, tugged at my heartstrings. All the goofy "Let's-get-laid-somehow-even-though-we're-losers!" part was just the dressing on their friendship cake.)

James said...

Not that you'll post this comment. Somehow mine never make it onto your blog...

But did you ever stop to think that maybe not EVERY movie ever made has to be to your liking?

SUPERBAD was hilarious.

And while I whole heartedly agree that the movie was thin -- (if McLovin wasn't in the movie, the whole thing would have fallen flat. McLovin really saves the rougher parts of the movie) -- I wouldn't go extolling pure hatred for the movie. SUPERBAD accomplished exactly what it set out to do. It wasn't trying to be a piece of high class art. It was trying to be disposable, pot smoking, humorous entertainment for a very specific audience. And it landed that audience.

Another example is HIGHLANDER from your post. The movie is incredibly dated.

All I am saying, is put these movies into proper context before passing judgment.

Julie Gray said...

Dear James and Binky - while the Wave-inatrix tries to maintain a professional objectivity for most of my posts, the post about Superbad was filed, if you notice, under "opinions". To which I am entitled. In expressing a personal opinion, it is not my job to express it in a way that you find pleasingly structured or contextualized. You may disagree and that's terrif, that's what makes a horse race. Please note, if either of you are screenwriters, that audiences pass summary judgment over their popcorn, generally with little analysis or contextualization whatsoever. They like it or they don't. It's the old-fashioned, Roman thumbs up or thumbs down.

I may be the Wave-inatrix, Empress of Cupcakes and Priestess of Fun, but I am also a regular movie goer. Thumbs down to Superbad for me. Worst movie ever?! God no, there is worse. The hyperbolic, ironic and playful Way of the Wave-inatrix went a bit over your heads that time.

E.C. Henry said...

Thanks for your mini-review of those movies, Julie.

I'm a HUGE Jud Appatow fan. I really wanna work with the guy someday... BUT I am quick to second your opinion of an excess of "crude" sexuality jokes. I found the penis obsessing scene in Superbad in EXTREAME bad taste. BUT "Superbad" did have a great ending, which took me by suprise.

I think Judd and crew are funny, but they need to add another member to their team who thinks a bit more the center. Someone on IMBD posted that Judd needs an editor. I'm inclined to second that. BUT the guy does tred on the grounds of genious more often then not, and whether I ever get to work with him or not, I'll always be currious what he's working on next, as I LOVED, "The 40 Year Old Virgin."

Was busy at a pitch fest the past two days in Seattle. Will try to partisipate in the NEXT one page event.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

john a. bailo said...

I don't think you actually saw the movie...or maybe you need to watch it again.

In the film (the actual film, not the one you think your saw), the three teenage boys did not "objectify women" -- they worshipped them.

Example: Evan. He spent the whole first part of the movie worshiping "Becca" and trying to figure out what she would like. He didn't try to get her drunk and have his way with her. Just the opposite...she asked him to bring booze. She got drunk waiting for him and then wanted to **** his brains out when he arrived.

Example: McLovin. This guy saw the girl of his dreams walking down the hallway (famous pantyline scene). Then he spent the rest of the movie trying to make himself hip to win her. In the end, all he did was show up at the party, and again, the girl came on to him.

Example: Seth. Now on first glance, you would think he "objectifies" women...but actually, he seems to be trying to grow into an adult who can "get with the ladies". Yes, he does do childish things in the cooking class with Jules, but that seems more like nervousness at the good fortune of getting to be her partner. He observes girls (no, not stalks...observes) because, like almost any teenage guy in history...he feels he needs to figure them out. Unlike the other two however, Jules seems prefer him "as is" without all the posture.

In the end, the males in the film seemed to go over the top trying to please these princesses they put on a pedestal, only to find out (like all men do) that it's the females who "objectify" men, in the sense of thinking that whose ever nearby when they are drunk "will do for now".

Julie Gray said...

John, I really appreciate your perspective and point of view. Isn't it interesting how although we watch the same movie, we so often don't watch the same movie at all? Be well and cupcake for you!

Sam said...

My partner warned me not to bother paying to watch this film. But I didn't listen to him as we have different taste in films and particularly in comedy films. But I wished I'd listened to him! Superbad is just not funny. It has its moments but I really expected to laugh given this bunch's previous films. I didn't. The misogynistic tone also didn't sit well with me.

I'm glad I'm not the only one that felt like this (not that it would change my opinion even if I was the only one in the entire world that voiced this opinion).
Superbad - Superdud.

yelblank152 said...

I finally had a chance to sit down and watch this movie and was also disappointed. My biggest problem was that I just couldn't stand Jonah Hill's character. He was a loud, obnoxious, selfish, perverted beast - and then he got the pretty girl in the end? Please! He wasn't even funny. I did like Christopher Mintz-Plasse - the whole McLovin thing with the cops was hilarious.

Cindy said...

I've heard a lot of mysogynistic comments in comedy movies (and in real life) over the years, so that wasn't really what bothered me about Superbad. I just didn't find the movie to be funny at all. Not once did I laugh. I am in awe at how this movie garnered such a high score on IMDB and other sites. Honestly, I'd rather watch a stupid film by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer than this piece of shit called Superbad. Even Scary Movie and all though shitty parody comedy movies were 1000x more funny than Superbad.