Tied to the 20th anniversary of Bring It On, we hereby dub this Teen Movie Week. Dig up your varsity jacket, pull up to your cafeteria table, and re-live your adolescence as we celebrate the best coming-of-age movies ever made.
“There were no movies that were really capturing what we were experiencing,” Seth Rogen told me in 2017. “So we wrote one, basically.”
Superbad is a movie for teenagers, by teenagers. Rogen and his cowriter Evan Goldberg—two childhood buddies from Vancouver—started writing the script when they were still in high school. “[We were watching] some dog-shit movie and we were just like, ‘We could fucking write a better fucking movie than this,’” Goldberg also told me in 2017. “And 30 minutes later, we were pretty bored, and said, ‘We should write a better movie than this.’ So we went upstairs to my parents’ desk area and just started writing a script.”
The friends decided to write a teen movie, but one that actually felt like high school—without the sophistication of the John Hughes teen movies or the sexual maturity and melodrama of a teen movie like Cruel Intentions. And they pulled it off: Superbad, which came out in 2007 after nearly a decade of being in development, looked and felt and sounded like a contemporary teen experience. It had the language, the panic of having to sit alone at lunch (“like I’m fucking Steven Glanzberg”), the desperate hunt for booze and misguided quest for sex, and above all, the creeping fear of college coming to split up you and the friends you’ve had your entire life. It was raucously funny (“People don’t forget,” Jonah Hill’s protagonist tells a classmate still known for peeing his pants in fourth grade) but also frank and heartfelt.
And so it shouldn’t be too surprising that on Friday, Superbad was dubbed the champion of our Teen Movie Bracket. It came down to the wire: Up against the unassailable Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Superbad prevailed with just 51.8 percent of the vote.
In the end, Superbad won the war on social media: The movie actually lost in our online poll, but won 52-47 percent on Twitter and 55-45 on Instagram. (Maybe that makes sense—the #SaveFerris legion is presumably less inclined to be on IG Stories than the younger set that relates more to Superbad.)
From the first round it was clear that Superbad was the odds-on favorite. (And for full transparency, Superbad was technically the overall no. 1 seed, after receiving the votes from The Ringer staff during the selection process.) Facing high-level movies like Dope, Adventureland, American Pie, Dazed and Confused, and Mean Girls, Superbad DOMINATED—not including the final, the movie won its matchups with an average 78 percent of the vote. The only question was whether Superbad would stand strong in the face of the highly quotable Ferris Bueller—would the relatively young Superbad be considered iconic enough to defeat a movie that’s undoubtedly iconic? Well, now we know. If Ferris Bueller is the teen movie of the ’80s, Superbad is the teen movie of the 21st century. And now it’s the teen movie of The Ringer.
It feels right to end this blog on an anecdote that speaks to how beloved Superbad is. On Friday afternoon, as voting on the final commenced, Superbad began to trend on Twitter, leading to people commenting on the movie without realizing it was in a to-the-death battle in an online competition. One writer couldn’t figure out why the movie would be trending—not because of the randomness, but because she felt the movie was slightly undeserving of the attention. So she tweeted, “Tell me one iconic line from superbad.”
And then she was promptly ratioed.