McLovin It: An Oral History of “Superbad”

At 13 years old, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg didn’t connect to the standard ’90s teen comedies that hit theaters. Instead, they were drawn to movies like Clerk, Swingers, Out Of Sight, Pulp Fiction, and Excursionists. So they started writing their own movie: a comedy about two kids trying to get booze and have sex with their high school crushes before going to college called Very bad.

More than a decade later, super bad finally opened in theaters. Immediately the film was a hit which catapulted its cast including Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, and Martha MacIsaac– in fame. None of them imagined the impact the film would have, except for Rogen and Goldberg, who never doubted it. super bad would be great.

Fifteen years after the film was released in 2007, you can still walk into Target and find McLovin t-shirts, and see dating app users claiming they are “DTF” – a phrase coined by Jonah’s friends Hill which he used in the film. Mainly, however, super bad endures because the film is as sincere as it is steamy, thanks to the bond between the fictional Seth and Evan. As we watch these two best friends head into an uncertain future, super bad also asks all of us to think about one of the most important questions a teenager can ask: “Where can I find alcohol?”

In honor of her 15th birthday, we took a trip back to high school with the cast and crew of Very bad.

EVAN GOLDBERG (CO-WRITER/PRODUCER): Seth and I met in Bar Mitzvah class and went to the same high school. And there was this place [a video store] it would give you seven movies for seven bucks for seven days, and we would always go there and get seven horrible movies and watch them.

SETH ROGEN (CO-SCREATOR/“OFFICER MICHAELS”): We would get them pretty much based on coverage. You would get mixed results on this.

GOLDBERG: One day we saw a movie that we really don’t know the name of, that was so bad that we thought, “We could make a better movie than this!” And then we went upstairs to my sister’s room, where the computer was, and we opened up Word – because we didn’t know there were other options – and we got started writing a horrible first draft of super bad.

ROGEN: It was basically the same idea. Basically there was a party and the guys were trying to buy some beer. It was inspired in large part by our desire to buy alcohol at the time. It was very true. We loved going to house parties. We had a ton of house parties at our high school for some reason. And it was always a challenge to get alcohol.

GOLDBERG: Our original draft ended with them leaving the party, walking down the aisle, then Seth’s character making fun of Michael Cera’s mom who has nice tits, then he says, “Fuck you.” It was the end.

ROGEN: I was doing stand-up at the time, and I was trying out the songs from the movie. And we would just see that these are fun ideas.

A lot of super bad was taken directly from the lives of Goldberg and Rogen. They really knew a girl who got her period while dancing; As teenagers, they ended up at an adult party where they saw people taking cocaine. They really filled laundry detergent bottles with beer. There really is a Fogell. Many people mentioned throughout the film, such as Dan Remick and Mike Snider, are also real people they knew.

At 16, Seth Rogen is cast in Judd Apatow’s cult series Freaks and Geeks. After the show was unceremoniously canceled in 2000, Apatow chose Rogen to Undeclared, which was also unceremoniously canceled after one season.

JUDD APATOW (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER): I heard Seth was writing something when we did it freaks and geeks, but he didn’t show it to me at the time. Seth and Evan had started their screenplay when they were 13 and already had something in its earliest form, which was incredibly funny and original. So we started wondering if we could get into the shape where someone would actually allow us to.

About Sally Dominguez

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