[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 1 – This is the End (2013)

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Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

Cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson

Screenplay: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

107 mins. Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence.

 

Here we are yet again. Another year has gone by and we arrive at my favorite month: October. I love celebrating my favorite genre with you all and I’m so excited to continue the tradition. This year, I thought we’d start off a with a lighter fare and take a look at the horror-comedy This is the End.

L-r, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen in Columbia Pictures' "This Is The End," also starring Jonah Hill.

In this film from directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (The Interview), each actor portrays a fictionalized version of himself, so know that going in.

Seth Rogen is very excited to see his best friend, Jay Baruchel (TV’s Man Seeking Woman, Million Dollar Baby), who has just flown in for the weekend. As the two trade stories, get high, and play video games, Seth suggests a party over at James Franco’s (TV’s 11.22.63, 127 Hours) house. There they meet up with Seth’s other acting partners Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street, How to Train Your Dragon 2), Danny McBride (Your Highness, Aloha), Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express, Hot Tub Time Machine 2), and Michael Cera (TV’s Childrens Hospital, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). As they party away inside, outside a cataclysmic event begins as the world ends all around them and they are forced to survive in the house as demons and death surround them, attempting to kill them all.

What a strange setup for a film, and surprisingly enough, it works better than most comedies that dip their toes into the supernatural. The film playfully uses elements and staples of a film like this such as possession, cannibalism, sin, forgiveness, insanity, paranoia, and death so carelessly (in a good way) that I can see why this offensively hilarious look at the end of days doesn’t garner as much love as other films from this cast.

I love that the cast here is able to poke fun at themselves, either playing against type (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) or playing exaggerations of themselves (Danny McBride and James Franco). The most important part is that they respect the conceit and the material and embrace it for the comedy.

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Directors Rogen and Goldberg take some big risks in the film and it pays off gloriously. It isn’t a slight on the these kinds of movies but an homage to them and a critique of fame in today’s society. And it’s really freaking funny. The cameos alone make this film a worthy comedic gem, but the way the movie is structured give it something wholly unique: a style like no other. See this movie before the apocalypse actually happens.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s The Interview, click here.

[Alright Alright Alright Movies] Pineapple Express (2008)

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Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Danny McBride

Screenplay: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

111 mins. Rated R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence.

 

I thought we’d have some fun today with the movie selection and inject a little stoner movie into the mix with 2008’s Pineapple Express.

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Dale Denton (Seth Rogen, This is the End, Sausage Party) is a process server with one favorite past time. He loves getting high. But when he witnesses a murder committed by drug lord Ted Jones (TV’s Veep, Office Space) and drops a roach at the scene of the crime, Dale surmises that Ted Jones can link him and his dealer Saul (James Franco, TV’s 11.22.63, 127 Hours) to the weed, known as Pineapple Express. Now, with Jones and crooked cop Carol (Rosie Perez, The Road to El Dorado, Pitch Perfect 2) hot on their trail, the two stoners must outrun danger and find out who can be trusted and how to escape death.

I have to say, I absolutely love this movie. I love the stoner straight man persona that Seth Rogen perfectly embodies here. I love the loose tonal combination of action and comedy that Pineapple Express functions with. James Franco is an excellent Saul and is joined by the untrustworthy dickweed named Red (Danny McBride, Your Highness, Rock the Kasbah) who is the middleman between Saul and Ted. The movie is hilariously written by Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg.

There are a number of great sequences in the film, from the cold open of the film exposing the government tests conducted on marijuana to the action-packed finale. I personally enjoyed the car chases and the fight at Red’s house, but you can’t fault the film for its strange surreal look at living on the lam and the forced friendships that we create out of sheer need for survival. It is a terrific package deal for a film.

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I can completely understand this not being everyone else’s cup of tea, but Pineapple Express deserves a chance as it made some solid money but doesn’t really garner the kind of praise it earned. Spend this 4/20 by enjoying a fantastic stoner comedy that continues to make me giggle almost eight years after its initial release.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of David Gordon Green’s Your Highness, click here.

The Interview (2014)

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Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco

Screenplay: Dan Sterling

112 mins. Rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.

 

Last year, a film was made, one that almost never saw the light of day thanks to terrorism. In the course of a few days, buzz around The Interview skyrocketed after a threats were made to Sony concerning its release. Theaters around the country pulled the film and refused to show it. It was a sad day to be an artist in America. It didn’t matter what kind of art was pulled, the fact that we were afraid to express ourselves showed more weakness than I could have imagined.

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But then, Sony came to the rescue. They released the film on online platforms. You can’t bomb online platforms (well, the danger was still there). Youtube released it. Netflix released it. Then, stores put it on shelves and we proved to the evils of the world that we are not going to stand for it (cue the inspirational battle hymn). Well, anyway, that happened, and it helped cement The Interview in the annals of American film history, but there was still one unanswered question: was the film any good?

In The Interview, the new comedy from directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (This is the End), we follow Rogen as Aaron Rapaport, producer for the talk show Skylark Tonight, featuring his friend Dave Skylark (James Franco, 127 Hours, True Story). The show is a fledgling one, more of a witch hunt show searching for shock and awe rather than inspirational or interesting television. That is, until they get an interview with Kim Jong-Un after finding that the dictator is a fan of the show. The two are then enlisted by the US government to assassinate the world leader during the interview and save countless lives (that’s right, it does bleed controversy).

The performances by the two leads are goofy and a little stupid, the cinematography looks cheap and a little stupid, and the pacing is way off. It’s a little stupid. With all that, the film does have its charms, but I do struggle to remember a moment where I laughed out loud. There were a few “that’s funny” moments but no guffaws. I wanted some damn guffaws.

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All in all, does The Interview deserve to be remembered the way it will be? Probably not. I found it to be a goofy somewhat comedic romp with little true substance outside its controversy.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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