Seth Rogen made a big splash on Netflix recently with his Hilarity for Charity special and the April Fool’s prank that promoted it. That special had John Mulaney, Sarah Silverman, Michelle Wolf, Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, Craig Robinson, Post Malone, Jeff Goldblum, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Che, and even the Muppets in its line-up – but it was Rogen himself who was the star. From his beginnings as a standup performer in Canada, Rogen has been mentored by Judd Apatow through the film industry to become one of the most prolific and popular comedy movie stars in the world. Here are the 10 funniest movies he stars in!
The premise of Neighbors made it almost impossible to suck: a young couple with a newborn baby find their tranquil suburban life disrupted when a college fraternity move in next door. Of course that was going to be a hit! But what really made the movie was the pairing of Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. Rogen has a history of finding co-stars who he has great chemistry with – James Franco, Bill Hader, Joseph Gordon Levitt – and Efron quickly joined that list. The moments in Neighbors that were the most fun were the times when Rogen and Efron’s characters were getting along, rather than when they were rivals (although the dildo fight was an inspired gag), so it was good that we got to see them make up in the end. That improvised scene outside Abercrombie and Fitch where they play shirtless greeters may have been unnecessary story-wise, but it was one of the funniest moments in the movie. Neighbors isn’t perfect and it could’ve been tightened here or there, but it’s a very entertaining movie. Plus, Rose Byrne could’ve easily been relegated to the role of nagging, eye-rolling wife, so props to the writers for letting her get equally involved in the shenanigans and show off her comedy chops. They even addressed this in the dialogue: “We can’t both be Kevin James.”
9. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
The studio greenlit this movie purely based on its title. Kevin Smith didn’t even have to pitch it. He came in, said what the movie was called, and boom, it was financed. The role of Zack had been written with Seth Rogen in mind all along, after Smith saw his performance in The 40 Year Old Virgin, and once Knocked Up came out with Rogen in the lead role and grossed a huge amount of money, he feared that Rogen would be too big of a star to now appear in his small movie about porn. But little did Smith know, when Rogen first arrived in Hollywood and his agent asked him what he wanted to do with his career, he said, “I want to be in a Kevin Smith movie.” So, when he made it, he wasn’t too big to be in the Kevin Smith movie – that, to him, was the sign that he had made it. And then they went and made a hilarious raunchy movie with a real heart. Oh, and also, unsurprisingly for a movie with both Seth Rogen and Kevin Smith’s hands in it, this movie has one of the highest F-word counts in cinema history, with a whopping 229 uses!
8. The Interview
Okay, so this movie nearly started a nuclear World War III and it’s not satirical or clever enough to really warrant a serious political response from North Korea – but it is funny. A lot of what happens in the movie is hilarious. On James Franco’s character Dave Skylark’s fictional talk show, Eminem comes out as gay and Rob Lowe reveals himself to be bald! And even when they get to North Korea, it’s just a screwball caper full of slapstick humor. There’s a scene where Seth Rogen sticks a big metal silo up his ass and runs away from a tiger. It’s just a goofball comedy. It’s fun. And Kim Jong-un in the movie isn’t necessarily portrayed as a heartless villain – they do humanize him a little, looking at the fact that he’s been thrust into this position of power at such a young age and characterizing him as a fan of Katy Perry. Politically, there’s nothing wrong with the movie. Like Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator, they could have theoretically come up with a fictional country and a fictional regime to make the movie about. If you take all the political stuff aside, you can enjoy The Interview as a wacky action comedy.
The titular Area 51 alien in Paul who drives across America with comic book nerds Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to evade the government’s grasp was not originally intended for Seth Rogen. In Pegg and Frost’s initial script, the character was supposed to be a gruff, battle-hardened old timer like Rip Torn, which would make sense. It’s been decades since he crashed in Roswell, so it would make sense to characterize him as a miserable old man. But when the studio suggested Rogen, who was coming off of a long string of hits produced by Judd Apatow, the two writers loved the idea, because he’s a funny actor with a very distinctive voice. They rewrote the character to be a cool, laid-back, pot-smoking slacker, much in keeping with the public persona of Rogen himself. The actor actually did the motion capture for the performance on the set himself, and consulted Andy Serkis – a motion capture wiz after using the technology for The Lord of the Rings, the new Planet of the Apes movies, The Hobbit, King Kong, the new Star Wars trilogy, Tintin, you name it – for advice on how to properly utilize it. The movie itself is a wonderfully entertaining homage to everything sci-fi, with nods to E.T., Aliens, Star Wars, Star Trek, Predator, Back to the Future, Close Encounters, The X Files, everything!
Seth Rogen began writing Superbad with his childhood friend Evan Goldberg when they were thirteen years old based on their high school experiences. Over the years, they developed the script more and more. It went unproduced for long that by the time Judd Apatow picked it up and started casting, Rogen was too old to play the lead role of Seth (who, believe it or not, was based on him), so he had to play the cop Officer Michaels opposite Bill Hader’s Officer Slater instead. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera got cast in the lead roles of Seth and Evan, respectively, and Christopher Mintz Plasse as Fogell, better known as McLovin. All things considered, they make up one of the strongest casts of any recent comedy movie. There isn’t a single weak line – they all bring hysterical and memorable moments to the movie. Rogen gets his fair share of moments, too. He brings that whole thing about how he became a cop thinking that there was semen on everything, because that’s what shows like CSI had led him to believe. He chases down Michael Cera to the point where he throws up and deliriously fires his gun into the air. And he has that hilarious revelation about cock-blocking McLovin: “We should be guiding his cock.” Brilliant stuff.
5. The 40 Year Old Virgin
With his directorial debut The 40 Year Old Virgin, Judd Apatow single-handedly changed the way that modern comedy movies are made. Before then, the actors just rigidly followed the dialogue on the page, and if they came up with something on the fly or the words on the page didn’t organically translate to the screen, it didn’t matter, because that was the script and the actors’ job was to deliver their dialogue from the script. But Apatow decided to let his actors improvise a lot of their dialogue, and because of this, they set a new record for the number of feet of film stock used for a single production – over a million – which was celebrated with a free bottle of champagne from Technicolor. Luckily, it was an experiment that paid off and we got gems like, “Aaaaarrgghh, Kelly Clarkson!!” and “What’s Curious George like in person?” and “It feels like a bag of sand when you touch it,” and a million “You know how I know you’re gay?” jokes. The movie is funny, sweet, smart, and timeless. If you think about a specific moment from the movie – any moment – it’ll make you smile. And if anything can have that sort of impact, then surely it’s something very special.
4. Sausage Party
As one might imagine, it was hard for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to get a major movie studio that would agree to finance a computer animated movie in the vein of Pixar movies that would be rated R and filled with cursing and violence and sex and toilet humor. But thank God they finally did get the funding, because it resulted in something truly hilarious and special. They really pushed the boundaries of that R rating – they avoided the NC-17 certificate by the skin of their teeth! Rogen has said, however, that the idea for the movie came from “an innocent place.” They were just thinking about Pixar movies and the concepts behind them, trying to come up with their own. So, they thought to themselves, “What would it be like if our food had feelings?” and after that, he said, “We very quickly realized that it would be fucked up.” The financial risk of Sausage Party paid off, as it went on to become the highest grossing R-rated animated film of all time. There has even been talk of a sequel. At the end of the original, the characters all realize that they’re just animation with their voices provided by human actors. Seth Rogen wants the next one to be “a live action/animated movie, like a Who Framed Roger Rabbit-style hybrid,” and that sounds awesome!
3. Knocked Up
We all know Paul Rudd as the on screen surrogate of Judd Apatow now, since he plays the husband of Apatow’s wife and the father of Apatow’s kids in all of his most personal movies, but when he made his second film Knocked Up, there was a different guy in the role of movie Apatow, and that was Seth Rogen. The director made his sophomore feature about when his wife became unexpectedly pregnant with their first kid. All the freakouts and the emotions and the arguments and the doubts were all very real and very personal to the director, and he chose Rogen to be the man who bring these experiences (including when he got kicked out of the car) to the big screen. Now, personal movies about the director’s personal struggles generally don’t do very well commercially, because people don’t care about most directors’ lives. But with Apatow, he captured something very relatable that a lot of people can identify with and he portrayed it in a very honest way and Rogen put it all out there in his performance, and so Knocked Up went on to become a huge hit at the box office, shooting past $200 million worldwide. Rogen has said that he enjoyed working with Katherine Heigl and that he was prepared for them to become “the shitty version of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan,” but she has since denounced the movie as “sexist,” calling out both Rogen and Apatow personally, which is a shame, because it’s a great movie that is very raw and honest and funny and sweet and the two stars seemed to have really terrific chemistry.
2. Pineapple Express
Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Judd Apatow got the initial idea for Pineapple Express from Brad Pitt’s stoner character in True Romance. This guy is just a supporting character who hangs around his apartment and gets high in the midst of a wider story about people who are on the run from gangsters, and the three writers “thought it would be funny to make a movie in which you follow that character out of his apartment and watch him get chased by bad guys.” The resulting movie is a fantastic stoner comedy and its success rides entirely on its two well-matched leads. The casting of Pineapple Express brought on two strokes of genius: the first was to reunite Rogen with his Freaks and Geeks co-star James Franco and the second was to have the typically comedic Rogen play the straight man to the typically dramatic Franco. Somehow that just worked! By having Franco be the wacky drug dealer who spouts absurd non-sequiturs and coasts through life and Rogen be the well-adjusted guy with the career who takes things seriously and has to react to the crazy things coming out of his companion’s mouth, the mixture in the comedy pot was just right and a comedy duo for the ages was born.
1. This is the End
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg saved their funniest script for their directorial debut. This is the End is a very dark, yet very funny look at how Hollywood’s rich and famous would react to the apocalypse. All the world’s best people get sucked up into Heaven when the demons of Hell rise up to wreak havoc on Earth, while Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel, and Danny McBride are all holed up at James Franco’s house, bickering over their rations and thinking of creative solutions to problems. The movie is so perfectly structured. It never lags for a second – it’s just one solid hilarious scene after another. This is the End is one of the funniest movies ever made and that’s no exaggeration – all the actors making fun of themselves never fails to get a laugh, and on top of that, it succeeds as an apocalyptic comedy on its own, even without the crutch of star power. The finest gag in the movie is perhaps “The Exorcism of Jonah Hill,” which is when it all gets ratcheted up to another level of absurdity and the third act kicks off that takes our characters outside into the hellscape that Los Angeles has become and hurtling towards the plot’s climax. It ends with a Backstreet Boys video in Heaven – enough said.