Yesterday saw the release of Long Shot, the latest from Canadian funnyman Seth Rogen. In little over a decade, the 37-year-old has established himself as one of Hollywood’s more reliable comic performers and filmmakers. And he easily has the industry’s most distinctive/weird laugh:
If I had to pick a favorite Rogen performance, I’d probably go with Neighbors, which found the star transitioning from his dorky-schlub persona to his dorky-slightly-older-schlub persona. Early in his career, the idea that Rogen could ever play someone who was married with a stable job and a family seemed impossible. In Neighbors, his character is Mr. Domesticated, but he’s still very much a Seth Rogen stumbling-through-life type.
In the 2014 comedy, he’s Mac, a corporate drone who’s about to move into a nice house with his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) and their baby daughter. Sure, he’s not as wild-and-crazy as he was in his 20s, but hey, nothing says Adult Success like a mortgage and fatherhood. To his dismay, though, he discovers that their new home is right next to a fraternity, led by Zac Efron, which puts Mac in the uncomfortable position of having to be the lame grownup asking those darn kids to keep their music down. Suddenly, the former stoner and party animal gets a rude awakening: Dude, you’re old now.
Neighbors goes a long way on the interplay between Rogen, Efron and Byrne. But it’s especially funny for how it tweaks the Seth Rogen persona. No longer is he the immature but well-meaning bozo of Knocked Up. Neighbors’ best running joke is that, eventually, those guys all become as responsible and boring as their parents. That realization terrifies Mac, but Rogen mines the revelation for plenty of knowing laughs.
Below, other members of the MEL team pick their favorite Rogen moments, from apocalyptic R-rated comedies to Freaks and Geeks.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Right before Seth Rogen became a big-time movie star, he played Cal, The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s tattooed asshole who worked in the stockroom at Smart Tech and watched women have sex with horses on the weekends. I’d argue, though, that it was his luscious goatee that makes this his best performance. Seth Rogen without a goatee is merely a goofy guy who has a weird laugh and makes the same movie for 10 years. The goatee, however, transcends his acting ability and truly takes him to another level. Seth, please bring it back. — Sam Dworkin, Senior Designer
Freaks and Geeks
I never saw the show when it was originally on television — not because it wasn’t good, but because Freaks and Geeks only lasted one season before it was prematurely cancelled. Years after it was on, I lived with a woman who’d heard the beloved cult classic was good, so she put it in her Netflix queue. When it arrived (back when you waited for a DVD to be sent in the mail by Netflix), we all sat down together — she, her boyfriend, my girlfriend and me — and watched it. Needless to say, we fell in love — with the show. It was such a sweetly affecting series. One that was honest about its freaks, loving of its geeks and always funny AF. While I was a fan of most of the characters, especially Bill, my favorite was Rogen’s character Ken Miller.
Everyone now knows about Rogen’s hyper-specific laugh. It’s this deep, rumbling, jovial sound like someone got a volcano high and taught it to chuckle. This show was my introduction to that laugh. He also made me chuckle and grin. Rogen’s Ken Miller was an unrepentant stoner, a friendly dirtbag burnout, a loyal friend who’s antisocial, and as such, he had the rare ability to be both dismissive and endearing at the same time.
In that talented ensemble of future stars like James Franco, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini, my point of focus was always Seth Rogen, the defiant underachiever who secretly knows he’s living up to his potential, because only he knows what that it is. — Zaron Burnett III, Contributing Writer
In Donnie Darko, Rogen’s biggest line is “I like your boobs,” but in the context of his entire filmography, it still feels very much like a Rogen character. Though he plays a violent, deeply troubled teenager named Ricky Danforth, there’s still a sense of stoner airheadedness to him. It was his first movie after Freaks and Geeks, so in some ways it feels like a much darker continuation of Ken Miller.
There’s a “go-with-the-flow” type of attitude and lack of ambition in many of Rogen’s more recent films. But in Donnie Darko, it’s as if this trait swung him in a different direction — not just a stoner skating by in life, but someone who had been swept up into cruelty. — Magdalene Taylor, Editorial Assistant
This Is the End
Performance-wise in This Is the End, Rogen was his typical funny version of hisself (playing, in fact, a funny version of hisself). But what really stands out was that this classic was Rogen’s directorial debut with his longtime creative partner Evan Goldberg. The two can be considered prodigies for writing Superbad at the age of 14. Then, after being under the tutelage of Judd Apatow, who encouraged them to develop the auteur side of their creative wheelhouse, they wrote on Undeclared, Da Ali G Show and The Green Hornet, all of which led up to his grand opus.
This Is the End tells the story of the end of the world happening during an extravagant Hollywood party, equipped with cameos from Rihanna, Kevin Hart and a coked-up Michael Cera. The film centers around Rogen’s real-life friends Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, all of whom play themselves trapped in Franco’s mansion as everything around them burns to the ground.
They usually tell writers to write what they know, but Rogen flipped this mantra on its head by writing a super-meta film about the tensions in his friend group set against the backdrop of the apocalypse. Not only is the film ghastly funny, but it has a surprisingly smart message about religion and not being a dick. They also made the Devil have a huge dick. So kudos to that as well. — Tarik Jackson, Story Producer