Seth Rogen

Could the Low-Budget Comedy Save Hollywood?

Twenty years ago, the highest-grossing movie of the summer wasn’t a budget-busting superhero movie, an explosion-driven sequel, a remake, a reboot, or (God help us) the fourth in a series of toy-based films about cars that turn into robots. The highest-grossing movie of the summer — of the year, in fact — was a mid-budget comedy/drama called Forrest Gump, which ended up winning six Oscars and grossing an astonishing $677 million worldwide, on a $55 million budget. Studios made mid-level movies like Gump back then (and not just in Oscar season); the following year, Universal’s Waterworld would make headlines and prompt giggles of derision when its budget zipped past $100 million. Such a thing was unheard of. Now, it’s impossible to imagine a major studio summer movie costing less than $100 million — unless, of course, it’s a film counter-programmed to make people laugh. … Read More

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Chris Christie, ‘The Interview,’ and the Difference Between Political Satire and Savvy PR

Last week, disgraced New Jersey governor Chris Christie set out on one of politics’ most time-honored and reliable paths to redemption: poking fun at himself. He made an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, pulling out his best “dad dance” moves and generally portraying himself as a lovable goof. “Look,” his performance seemed to say, “I’m a bit dorky, a bit cuddly, a bit funny — now can we forget that I’m responsible for the most jaw-droppingly petty and childish political self-destructions of our time?” I doubt it’ll succeed in redeeming him, but the whole spectacle is a reminder of how humor can be a double-edged sword when it comes to politics. … Read More

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Stop Saying the Movie Star Is Extinct

I suppose one of the drawbacks of being the “editorial director” of a big site like Variety is that it might be hard to find an underling brave enough to give you proper editorial guidance. That’s the best explanation I can come up with for “Movies Stars are Endangered Species as Actors Struggle to Stay Relevant,” an aimless, toothless, and generally worthless op-ed from Peter Bart, the once-savvy Hollywood insider who these days pens the show-biz bible’s equivalent to those rambling, ellipsis-heavy nightmares Larry King used to write for USA Today. Bart, who was last heard weakly advising Jon Stewart not to direct movies because non-directors doing so never works out (Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, and Orson Welles be damned), mostly just uses the “death of the movie star” canard as a weak peg for his incoherent ramblings about which actors he does and doesn’t like. But even if he’d bothered to mount a strong argument about the death of the movie star, he’d be wrong, and here’s why: … Read More

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The 25 Most Underrated Movies of the 2000s

Today, our friends over at the Criterion Collection are giving the Blu-ray upgrade treatment to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson’s 2004 comedy/drama — a film that arrived with sky-high expectations (it was Anderson’s first film after the acclaimed Royal Tenenbaums, and star Bill Murray’s first since his Oscar-nominated turn in Lost in Translation) that it didn’t quite meet. But few films could have, frankly, and seen from this distance, Life Aquatic holds up quite well; in fact, it’s one of many films from the first decade of the 21st Century that doesn’t seem to have the reputation they deserve. In the spirit of celebrating such overlooked gems, we’ve assembled this list of the most underrated pictures of the 2000s. … Read More

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‘Neighbors': The Bro Comedy Grows Up

It may seem counterintuitive to praise the emotional maturity of a movie whose climax includes a dildo fight, but there you have it. Neighbors is the new comedy from director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement), starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents, and Zac Efron and Dave Franco as the heads of the fraternity that moves in next door to them. The high concept is broad and simple: “FAMILY VS. FRAT,” as the ad line rather simplistically summarizes. But it’s about more than that — and hints at some interesting possibilities for comedies of its ilk. … Read More

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The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Seth Rogen

The extremely uneven 39th season of SNL is in the homestretch. Seth Rogen returns to the stage to help drag us to the finish line (just a few more eps to go). It’s been five years since Rogen hosted, and we’re expecting plenty of pop culture references, 420-friendly sketches, and one too many dick and fart jokes. SNL isn’t short on the latter, but we’re willing to give the good-natured comedian a chance. See how it all went down last night, below. … Read More

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