The film received favorable reviews, with critics praising the dialogue and the chemistry between the two leads. The film also proved financially successful, grossing a total of US$169 million from only a US$20 million budget.
Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are two high school seniors who lament their virginity and poor social standing. Best friends since childhood, the two are about to go off to different colleges, as Seth did not get accepted into Dartmouth like Evan. After Seth is paired with Jules (Emma Stone) during Home-Ec class, she invites him to a party at her house later that night. Later, their friend Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) comes up to the two and reveals his plans to obtain a fake ID during lunch. Seth uses this to his advantage and promises to bring alcohol to Jules' party. Meanwhile, Evan runs into his crush Becca (Martha MacIsaac) and he offers to get her some vodka for the party. Fogell's fake ID is met with derision by Seth and Evan, as it states that Fogell's name is simply "McLovin". After contemplating their options, Seth decides they have no choice but to have Fogell buy the alcohol with his fake ID. Fogell goes in and successfully buys the alcohol, but is interrupted when a robber enters the store, punches him in the face, and takes money from the cash register.
When police officers Slater (Bill Hader) and Michaels (Seth Rogen) arrive to investigate the robbery, Seth and Evan believe that Fogell will be arrested for possessing a fake ID. Inside the store, Slater and Michaels are apparently fooled by Fogell's ID and give him a ride to the party. While arguing over what to do, Seth is hit by a car being driven by Francis (Joe Lo Truglio), who promises to take them to a party he is attending in exchange for them not telling the police. During Fogell's time with the police, they exhibit very irresponsible behavior such as drinking on the job, shooting their firearms at a stop sign, and improper use of their sirens to run red lights. All the while, the three develop a strong friendship. When Seth and Evan arrive at the party, they quickly discover that Francis is not welcome there. Francis is brutally beaten by Mark (Kevin Corrigan), the party host, while Seth fills detergent bottles from the basement with alcohol he finds in the fridge. Just as he was about to leave, Mark angrily confronts him for dancing with his fiancée earlier, who was on her period. Mark was about to beat up Seth until an angry party guest attacks him for throwing a glass bottle at his face, which was meant for Seth. Mark's fiancée is angry at Seth for embarrassing her and calls the cops. Seth and Evan escape with the alcohol.
After running away, Evan and Seth begin to argue, with Seth angrily asking why Evan is going to Dartmouth when he knew Seth would not get accepted. Evan angrily responds that Seth has been holding him back for years and he does not want to miss out because of him. During the argument, Evan pushes Seth in front of the police cruiser driven by Slater and Michaels. Afraid of losing their jobs, the cops decide to frame Seth and Evan by arresting them, but when Fogell comes out of the car, Evan makes a run for it, and Seth and Fogell escape with the alcohol. While on a bus, a drifter attempts to steal the vodka that Becca wanted, causing it to fall out of Evan's hand and smash on the floor, after which the trio is kicked off. They run to the party, but on the way, Fogell accidentally clues Seth in on his plans to room with Evan the next year. Hurt, Seth angrily takes the alcohol into the party by himself. At the party, Seth becomes popular and Evan tries to hook up with Becca, but she is too drunk.
Becca drags Evan upstairs to have sex with him, but he declines and leaves after she vomits next to him on the bed. Meanwhile, Fogell impresses Nicola (Aviva Farber) and plans to have sex with her upstairs as well. Seth drunkenly attempts to kiss Jules, but she turns him down because she neither drinks nor wants anything to do with Seth while he is drunk. Seth then confesses to Jules his plan to hook up with her while they were both intoxicated and become her boyfriend over the summer before they both departed for college and that he has effectively ruined any chance of that happening. Jules tries to reassure him otherwise, but before she can continue, Seth passes out and accidentally headbutts her, leaving her with a black eye. Slater and Michaels bust the party and Seth saves an intoxicated Evan by carrying him out. Fogell's lovemaking lasts only a moment, before he is interrupted by Slater, who scares Nicola away. Michaels calms down Slater, who is angry at Fogell for ditching them.
After they apologize for "cock-blocking" him, they reconcile and reveal they knew Fogell was not 25 the whole time—they had played along, wanting to prove cops can have fun as well. To make it up to Fogell, they pretend to arrest him to boost his social standing, then proceed to drive recklessly and destroy their car with a Molotov cocktail while Fogell shoots it with the cop's firearm. At Evan's house, Seth reveals to Evan that he knew all along that Fogell was Evan's roommate in college after looking at papers Evan had lying around with that information. Evan reveals he didn't want to room with Fogell and only did it because he didn't want to live with strangers. He then confesses his true brotherly love feelings to Seth who in return shows the same feelings. Seth and Evan patch things up and declare their friendship for each other. The next morning, they go to the mall to buy stuff for college, where they meet Jules and Becca, and they all reconcile. Seth takes Jules to buy concealer for her bruise, while Evan and Becca leave their friends to go buy a new comforter to replace the one that Becca vomited on. Evan and Seth go their separate ways.
The film was written by Goldberg and Rogen during their teen years. It is loosely based on their own experience as seniors in Vancouver in the late 1990s, hence the character names Seth and Evan. According to an interview at an event panel in 2009 Fogell was also a real friend of Rogen and Goldberg. Rogen was initially slated to play Hill's character Seth, but due to his physical size and age, he played one of the police officers. The film took over seven years to complete from early scripting in 2000 and filming in 2006/2007. Mintz-Plasse was only 17 at the time of filming Superbad, and as a result, his mother was required to be present on set during his sex scene.
The film was primarily shot in Los Angeles.
The high school is actually the exterior of El Segundo High School. The mall scenes were shot at the old Fox Hills Mall (which became the Westfield Mall) in Culver City, California.
Other notable filming locations include the convenience store at the beginning of the film, also in Culver City, the liquor store where "McLovin" gets IDed in Glendale, California, and the bar where the cops take McLovin for a drink is neighboring Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The scene where McLovin and the cops do donuts in the cop car was filmed in a parking lot on the California State University, Northridge campus.
Superbad opened at number one at the United States box office, grossing US$33,052,411 in its weekend from 2,948 theaters for an average of US$11,212 per theater. The film stayed at #1 the second week, grossing US$18,044,369.
The film grossed US$121.5 million in the United States and Canada and US$48.4 million in other countries, for a total of US$169.9 million worldwide. Compared to the budget of US$20 million, the film earned a huge financial profit, making it the highest domestic grossing high school comedy at the time (it was surpassed by 21 Jump Street, a film also starring Hill, in 2012).
Superbad received favorable reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 88% approval rating with an average rating of 7.5/10 based on 204 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Deftly balancing vulgarity and sincerity while placing its protagonists in excessive situations, Superbad is an authentic take on friendship and the overarching awkwardness of the high school experience." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 76/100 based on 36 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle called it 2007's most successful comedy. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times had the headline of his review read "McLovin It," and gave the film 3 1⁄2 stars (out of 4) and said "The movie reminded me a little of National Lampoon's Animal House, except that it's more mature, as all movies are." Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times said "Physically, Hill and Cera recall the classic comic duos—Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Aykroyd and Belushi. But they are contemporary kids, sophisticated and sensitive to nuance"; she added, "I hope it's not damning the movie with the wrong kind of praise to say that for a film so deliriously smutty, Superbad is supercute". Sean Burns of Philadelphia Weekly said "2007: the year Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen saved movie comedy", a reference to Knocked Up which was released in June. Devin Gordon of Newsweek said "As a Revenge of the Nerds redux, Superbad isn't perfect. But it's super close."
In a more critical vein, Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter, compared the film to other films with a single-day structure, such as American Graffiti and Dazed and Confused, but said that Superbad "doesn't have the smarts or the depths of those ensemble comedies". The Hollywood Reporter review was referenced in the film's DVD audio commentary, particularly the review's suggestion that the two main characters have a homoerotic experience similar to the film Y Tu Mamá También. Adam Graham of The Detroit News said, "the cops belong in a bad Police Academy sequel, not this movie", and also that the film "falls short of teen-classic status." Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel called the film "super-derivative", "super-raunchy", and "Freaks and Geeks: Uncensored". Moore went on to say the film shamelessly plagiarizes from films such as Can't Hardly Wait and American Graffiti. He also said, "Like Knocked Up, this is a comedy they don't know how to end. The energy flags as it overstays its welcome." Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe said the film "has a degree more sophistication than Revenge of the Nerds and American Pie, and less than the underrated House Party". Morris also said, "the few smart observations could have come from an episode of one of Apatow's TV shows" and "I wanted to find this as funny as audiences did".
It was listed as #487 on Empire's 500 Greatest films of all time.WonCanadian Comedy Awards 2008 – Seth Rogen – Best Writing. Rogen could not attend the awards ceremony but recorded a special thank you message.Canadian Comedy Awards 2008 – Michael Cera – Best Male PerformanceChicago Film Critics Association Awards 2007 – Michael Cera – Most Promising PerformerAustin Film Critics Association Awards 2007 – Michael Cera – Breakthrough Artist AwardYoung Hollywood Awards 2008 – Emma Stone – Exciting New FaceNominated2008 MTV Movie Awards – Best Movie2008 MTV Movie Awards – Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse – Breakthrough2008 Peabody Award – Best New Comedy Performance2008 MTV Movie Awards – Jonah Hill – Best Comedic PerformanceBroadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2007 – Best Comedy MovieBroadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2007 – Michael Cera – Best Young ActorEmpire Awards 2007 – Best ComedyTeen Choice Awards 2007 – Choice Summer Movie – Comedy/Musical
Superbad was released via DVD and Blu-ray on December 4, 2007, in two versions: theatrical (113 minutes) and unrated (118 minutes). Special features include deleted scenes, an audio commentary on the unrated version with cast and crew, line-o-ramas (a feature most associated with Apatow films), a making-of, and a number of featurettes.
Two tie-in books to the film were published by Newmarket Press:Superbad: The Illustrated Moviebook was published on December 4, 2007, to coincide with the release of the film on DVD. This official companion book includes an introduction by producer Judd Apatow; the complete script by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; commentaries by Apatow, Rogen and Goldberg, and journalists from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Entertainment Weekly; 56 film stills; "Mr. Vagtastic Guide to Buying Porn;" and 24 "phallographic" drawings by David Goldberg that viewers will recognize from the film's end credits.Superbad: The Drawings was published on February 14, 2008. This gift hardcover art book contains 82 "phallographic" drawings created by David Goldberg (Evan Goldberg's brother) for the film.