10. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), R, 94 mins.
Ok, I’m throwing this one in mostly because of itspopularity, not because I loved it so much. It’s one of those comedies that hada handful of scenes that just about made me fall out of my seat from laughingso hard, and about five times as many scenes that just fell completely flat.
But for some reason Farrell's comedies don't always strike me as failures, even the ones that have more bad jokes than good ones. And in this case, Rogen was a good part of the reason that the movie survives a lot of its own goofiness.
Rogen plays a small part in the movie since no one knew whohe was way back in 2004, but the classy '70's news spoof was a crucial steppingstone on his way to better, if not always bigger, things.
The movie is full of jokes that go on far longer than they should - a problem which permeates almost all of Will Farrell's career - but it was still a crucial stepping stone for Rogen.
Anchorman trivia –The Mexican restaurant that Veronica visits with the girls from the tv stationis called “Escupimos en su Alimento,” which is Spanish for “We Spit in YourFood.”
9. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), R, 116 mins.
Steve Carell’s first starring role was not only the moviethat brought him into the limelight more than ever, but another important smallrole for the upcoming Seth Rogen as well.
He is not only given several of the movie's better lines, but also plays a role that fits well with the kind of comedy that would soon go on to make him famous.
Oh, and it was also a nice changefrom that decades-old barrage of movies about teenagers on a mission to getlaid. Now we have a middle-aged guy at the forefront of his co-workers’ (one ofwhom was played by Rogen) mission to get him laid.
Rogen has a relatively small role in the movie, overshadowedobviously by Steve Carell’s hilarious performance, but his role here would goon to be one of the big reasons Rogen would later be able to get his almost10-year-old script for Pineapple Expressgreen-lit.
40-Year-Old Virgin trivia– The entire “you know how I know you’re gay” scene was improvised by Paul Ruddand Seth Rogen.
8. Monsters vs. Aliens(2009), PG, 94 mins.
By 2009 Rogen was already a well-established actor, and soappears as the voice of B.O.B., the giant blue blob, a much more prominent rolethan what we’ve seen in this list so far.
I have a special connection with Monstersvs. Aliens because as you may remember Iset a world record with my review of it last year (and Fresno, one of myhometowns, was mentioned in it, although not in the most flattering light), butit also stands on its own as one of the best examples of animated familyentertainment to come along in 2009.
The movie tells the story of a woman who gets struck by a meteor and turned into agigantic monster, as would be expected, and is then spirited away by adesperate government eager to team her up with some other monsters collectedover the years to battle an invading force of aliens and save the world.
Quite the outlandish story, if you ask me, but the important kind of outlandish story. Especially in the animation field, the pure freedom of imagination must always be exercised as much as possible, and it was definitely done here.
Monsters vs. Alienstrivia – The license plate on the yellow car that Susan uses as a roller skateskating through traffic on her way to the Golden Gate bridge reads “XQZMEEE.”
7. Kung Fu Panda (2008),PG, 92 mins.
I can tell you from experience that this is by far the mostpopular movie in China that will appear on this list. I was living there whenthe movie came out and the number of times Chinese people asked me if I hadseen it would make your head spin.
In fact, I got so sick of it that that’s partof the reason that the movie isn’t higher on the list than #7, because it wasone of the best animated features of 2008.
It’s the story of an overweight Panda sent to a kung futemple to become a martial arts master and fulfill and ancient prophecy, and it takes Jack Black's unique comic style to make it work.
JackBlack takes the title role and Seth Rogen is relegated to the voice of one ofthe sidekicks, but it’s a hilarious sidekick in a hilarious movie, and animatedfilms are a great way for actors to work their way up in the world.
Just think,had it not been for an animated praying mantis two years ago, we might not beseeing the return of the Green Hornetnext week!
Kung Fu Panda trivia– The individual fighting styles of the Furious Five members are actual martialarts styles modeled after the particular animals. Believe it or not, the kungfu masters at the Shaolin Temple just outside of Luoyang, China (where I’velived for the last four years) perform this on stage for tourists several timesa day.
6. Knocked Up (2007),R, 129 mins.
A little over long for the material, I thought, but KnockedUp came as a surprisingly mature look athow one partying slacker was forced to reevaluate his lifestyle and face up tosudden responsibility.
Katherine Heigl is in one of the best roles of hercareer as Allison Scott, a rising entertainment writer who’s life is derailedby a drunken one night stand (don’t try this at home, kids!).
Rogen plays BenStone, the said one night encounter, who now must make the fabled choice ofpursuing his present course and facing obliteration or doing his part to getboth of their lives back on track.
And when you can mix together mature elements of real lifewith the low brow humor that Rogen is most known for, you’re on tosomething.
Laugh-out-loud comedy cleverly combined with a touching romance. It's probably the most serious movie on this entire list but still works well as a comedy.
Definitely one of the best of 2007!
Knocked Up trivia –This is Seth Rogen’s first leading role, and the movie features 120 f-bombs. Gofigure.
5. Zack and Miri Make A Porno (2008), NC-17, 101 mins.
Kevin Smith may have braved the dangers of the NC-17 ratingbecause this was one of the projects that he not only directed but also wrote(this is his best skill, in his – and my – opinion), and because he knows thathe has generated a sufficient fan base over the years for the heavy rating tostill make money at the box office.
Besides, combining an NC-17 rating with themovie poster is a guaranteed recipe for success.
It’s a surprisingly heartwarming story of two best friends,Zack and Miri, who decide that they know each other well enough and for longenough for it not to be a big deal if they were to make a porn film together tosolve their respective cash flow problems.
Predictability rolls in like anarmored tank when they start to discover feelings for each other, but despiteone feces-spewing scene the movie still holds together.
You have to go into a movie like this understanding that it's going to be overflowing with childish sex comedy, but fecal comedy just has no place in the movies at all. But maybe that's just me. Nevertheless, Rogen's efforts elevate the material above a lot of the tripe that Smith comes up with, and the result is a comedy that's much more heartwarming than it has any right to be.
Porno trivia – 229f-bombs. A new record. Oh, and it stars at least one real life porn star. Don't ask me how I know.
4. Superbad (2007),R, 113 mins.
Hill and Ceraare Seth and Evan, two long-time friends approaching high school graduation whoget invited to one of the cool parties through a stroke of pure luck and spendthe run-up time trying to amass enough alcohol to get a couple high schoolhotties drunk and get themselves laid before they graduate so they can walkaway from high school as men.
Yes, the age-old formula of a lot of teenagers trying to get laid has been made not only into a passable comedy, but a comedy passable enough to earn a spot on the list of the best movies of one of our most famous comedians. How about that!
Things get complicated when the cops get involved along theway, and while the clichés are never very far from the forefront a whole arrayof hilarious performances in all the lead roles made the movie memorable. Oh,and a huge number of f-bombs, too (186, taking third place behind Zack andMiri and Scarface).
Superbad trivia –Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg started writing the script when they were 13 yearsold, saying that at the time they “just wanted to see if we could write amovie.” Nice work!
3. Donnie Darko(2001), R, 113 mins.
Seth Rogen has a tiny little side role in the movie but I’mputting it high on my list because it’s my favorite of all of the movies here.It’s also by far the most unique, especially among so many family movies andsex comedies. It’s definitely an interesting career arc that Rogen isdescribing for himself.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Donnie Darko, a troubled teenagerhaving bizarre visions of a giant, freaky bunny rabbit and the future (or thepast?), while struggling to figure out how to get along in a truly screwed upworld and how to not be killed by falling jet engines.
You have to see this oneto understand it, and not just once either. This is the most densely intelligent film on this list, but even more impressive is the way it manages to keep you completely entertained while constantly challenging you intellectually, emotionally, even spiritually.
There's so much going on here, and it's presented in such a highly entertaining way, that even while you feel yourself getting more and more lost along the way, you never feel confused because the entertainment factor is so high.
The intricate story is propelled bystellar performances across the board and brilliant music and effects. Bravo!
Darko trivia – SethRogen’s feature film debut.
2. Pineapple Express(2008), R, 111 mins.
Pineapple Express isby far the funniest movie in the whole list, in my opinion. And I’m writing thelist, so my opinion counts the most. Late 2008 was dominated in my mind by TropicThunder and this movie, both of which just about knocked me overbackwards they were so hilarious.
Rogen and costar James Franco both fit theirstoner roles so well that it’s almost impossible to believe they’re anydifferent in real life.
Rogen is Dale Denton, a process server who goes aroundhanding people pieces of paper full of bad news, and Franco is Saul Silver, hisweed dealer. Simple enough, and they play off of each other perfectly. But whenDale witnesses a gangland murder involving cops and stupidly drops hishighly-traceable roach at the scene, he and Saul find themselves in a run fortheir lives.
It gets a little violent in the last act for my taste, but stillone of the funniest movies of 2008. All aboard!
Pineapple trivia – Okcheck this out, Seth Rogen wrote the script for the movie in 2001, but no oneknew who he was at the time so he couldn’t get it made. It wasn’t until afterhis roles in The 40-Year-Old Virginand Knocked Up that the scriptwas approved. Also, James Franco, currently working on his Ph.D at Yale, read17th century Jacobean dramas between takes. Oh, and there are 180f-bombs in the movie.
1. Funny People(2009, R, 146 mins.
Funny People actuallyhas the second lowest popular rating of all the movies on this list on the IMDb(6.7 out of ten, above only Zack and Miri’s 6.5), but I’m putting it at the top of my list because I think it’sextremely important for comedians to once in a while step back and do somethinga little more personal, where they play characters closer to who they reallyare in real life, while at the same time maintaining a good level of comedy.And in Adam Sandler’s best movie ever, they definitely do it.
Sandler plays George Simmons, a successful comedian(himself) who suddenly discovers that he is mortally ill and his entireperspective on life changes. Rogen plays Ira Wright, a young comedianstruggling to find a way in the entertainment business – himself from a fewyears earlier – who through a stroke of good luck forms a friendship withSimmons. He thinks he’s going to have like the greatest internship ever with ahugely successful comedian, but soon discovers that the reality behind Simmonsis a lot heavier than he could have imagined.
The movie features more cameo appearances than anyone shouldever take the time to list, my favorite of which is in a side-splittingrestaurant scene with Slim Shady and Ray Romano (“I thought everybody lovedyou!”). It’s Judd Apatow (who also produced Knocked Up, Superbad, The40-Year-Old Virgin, PineappleExpress, and Anchorman) at his best, and proof that even an ensemble castof low-brow comic superstars can come up with something meaningful andentertaining. See it!
Funny People trivia –During the scene where Ira (Rogen) is waiting for Simmons (Sandler) to pick himup you can see in the background a Green Hornet poster.
The Green Hornet willbe released on January 14th. Enjoy!