Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Rob Hunter thinks back on the simpler times of youth while giving a listen to the Superbad commentary!
Booksmart is new to theaters and well worth your time and money. Hopefully in six month’s time it’ll out on Blu-ray with a commentary featuring Olivia Wilde and its two lead stars, but for now we’re going to settle on the commentary for a movie that’s repeatedly been mentioned while praising Wilde’s directorial debut.
Superbad is a ridiculously fun and foul coming of age tale filled with laughs and more than a little heart. It holds up extremely well twelve years later, and the commentary track — featuring a whopping eight people — is almost as funny while being far fouler. So keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for…
Commentators: Judd Apatow (producer), Jonah Hill (actor), Greg Mottola (director), Evan Goldberg (co-writer), Seth Rogen (co-writer, actor), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (actor), Michael Cera (actor), Maude Apatow (producer’s daughter)
1. They’re recording both in NY and LA, but Apatow’s daughter can only hear the NY side so he says he and Hill can’t swear during the commentary.
2. The first collaboration between Rogen and Goldberg happened when they were twelve years old and made “a bad Star Wars spoof movie.” It starred Goldberg while Rogen was entirely off-screen.
3. Early drafts of the script were read during production of Apatow’s series Undeclared (2001-2003), but while they were funny he says it took many years of rewrites to add heart to the humor.
4. Hill initially read for a smaller part despite suggesting he was perfect for Seth — the character he eventually went on to play. “How frustrated were you at that moment?” asks Apatow. “I just felt that you guys were stupid,” replied Hill.
5. Cera’s mom read the script first and suggested he give it a go.
6. They were concerned early on that Cera “wasn’t doing anything” with the character and wondered if he needed more energy or if it would “read” on camera. “We had to get a thirty foot screen for video village so we could see what he’s doing.” His subtle comedic stylings quickly made themselves known.
7. When Dave Franco first appeared on set they didn’t know he was James Franco’s brother. “We were just staring at him, what’s wrong with this guy?”
8. Mintz-Plasse’s first scene in a movie ever is the sequence at 15:20 where he interrupts the cooking class. He started improvising from his very first line.
9. The dick-drawing scene required “enormous legal complications” getting it to the screen. Every single drawing had to be approved individually by the studio’s legal department “and we would get notes back saying ‘too big, too veiny.'” The shot of the little girl holding the dick drawing at 19:31 is actually the hands of a tiny adult woman.
10. Goldberg had an incident involving excess drinking and stripping down in a bathroom at LA’s Canter’s Deli, and Rogen first heard about it when “coincidentally Joe and Anthony Russo were in Canter’s and we overheard these two guys saying ‘there’s this naked guy drunk and passed out in the bathroom upstairs.'”
11. Hill wasn’t keen on Mintz-Plasse after their first audition together as he felt the newcomer kept “stepping all over his lines.” They pulled Hill aside, played him back the tape, and asked him to show them a single instance — he couldn’t as Mintz-Plasse was instead helping boost Hill’s delivery and performance. Hill claims it was because his character wasn’t supposed to like Mintz-Plasse’s, but everyone calls him on it. “That’s great guys, I thought we were all friends.”
12. Rogen credits Jay Baruchel for first suggesting Cera to them.
13. Cera auditioned for The Sixth Sense. He did not get the role but thinks Haley Joel Osment does good work.
14. The liquor store robber is played by the film’s stunt coordinator, Tim Trella, who also played Evil Ash in Army of Darkness.
15. They mention that “cool” audiences cheer and clap when Joe Lo Truglio appears on screen, and Rogen compares it to the reaction when Alan Tudyk shows up in Knocked Up.
16. There’s a gap where no one talks for a couple minutes, and when they return Hill lets a “fuck” slip which sees Apatow chastise him for swearing in front of Maude. It develops into a big argument, but while I love Apatow’s commitment to the bit it’s clear it’s just that — a bit. Still, Hill and Rogen get mean and Apatow and his daughter leave.
17. Rogen says the blond woman at 56:26 is “that bat-shit crazy chick from that fucking…” He offers no further details.
18. No actual alcoholic beverage companies would give the okay to the film using their products. “Companies that make money poisoning and killing people would not clear their product for a boner movie.”
19. The scene where Evan (Cera) accidentally winds up in the room with guys doing cocaine is actually based on a real incident from Rogen and Goldberg’s younger days. They attended a party when they were fourteen meant to say goodbye to a local standup comic who was moving, and Rogen’s mom took them. “Everyone started doing blow,” says Rogen, and Goldberg adds that “the house was owned by a midget and a bodybuilder who were a couple.” “And there was a pig.”
20. They wanted the cop car’s windshield to crack when they hit Seth, but after multiple takes it wouldn’t break so Trella had to smash it with a hammer.
21. That’s Rogen’s dad Mark throwing the bat at Seth at 1:19:50.
22. They mention a friend of theirs who was working on a secret J.J. Abrams film during production. “One eighteen oh-eight!” It’s a time capsule hearing people unaware that Cloverfield was coming.
23. Rogen mentions auditioning for HBO’s Band of Brothers and Hill gives him epic amounts of shit for it. “Colin Hanks was in it!” says Rogen in his defense.
24. “I hate that rat at the end of The Departed,” says Hill, unaware that six years later he would be starring in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
25. The scene with Evan and Becca (Martha MacIsaac) in bed originally had a scripted line for her that they couldn’t bring themselves to actually use. “Eat my dirty hairy love crack.”
26. Mintz-Plasse was a minor during production, so McLovin’s sex scene had to be shot in a very particular way so that nothing sexual actually happened between him and Aviva Bauman. “Those two seconds where Aviva’s on top of Chris were studied over and over and over again by the studio to make sure that there was no grinding.”
27. Rogen mentions that he recently received an email saying that Bill Clinton wanted a print of Knocked Up.
28. They have great fun ripping into the Hollywood Reporter’s review of the film by Stephen Farber. They’re right to do so.
29. For the end credits they named some of the unnamed characters with “porn names” — a combination of their pet’s name and the street they grew up on.
30. Goldberg’s brother David drew all of the dicks. He’s a lawyer now.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“There was kind of a lull in comedies with balls.”
“The dick to heart ratio!”
“If you believe it, there’s masturbation gestures that we cut out of the movie!”
“Michael doesn’t get boners.”
“Waiting to work with Ben Stiller is more important than actually working with us.”
“Danny [McBride] will be more famous than any of us.”
“We were too naive to know that guys did coke back then, so we just assumed they were fucking the pig.”
“Clark Duke fucking queering up my glory shot.”
This is a very funny commentary for a very funny movie. Everyone gets in some entertaining chatter, they offer up some enlightening anecdotes about the production, and you end feeling like you’ve become a better person. Okay, that last bit might be an exaggeration, but it’s a great listen all the same.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.