Maybe it was Freaks & Geeks, maybe it was 40 Year-Old Virgin – whenever it was, the first time you laid eyes on Seth Rogen’s curious hair and loveable face, the first time you heard his infectious laugh, you probably knew he was here to stay.
Then when Knocked-Up rolled around there was a collective arched eyebrow:
‘So this guy is a leading man then, hmm?’
What was it? He is not typically good looking or even conventionally funny in a Steve Carrell/Jim Carrey goofy sense, but something about Seth Rogen spearheading a movie just seemed to fit.
Since his breakthrough in 2007 he has become the face of Hollywood’s current comedy scene, the ambassador for his pantheon of cronies – Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel…
But how current is he really?
Very soon he will star in The Interview aside James Franco, with a final trailer being released yesterday (which you can see at the bottom of this post). The new movie tops off a 7-year period where he has been everywhere.
Everwhere. Constantly. And it is irritating.
While delivering headline performances in the likes of Pineapple Express, Funny People and most recently Bad Neighbours, he’s popped up in everything his mates get up to such as Anchorman, Step Brothers and Superbad.
The problem isn’t just his omnipresence, it is also in what form he is present most of the time. Answer – himself. Rogen never changes his character. Look at all of his comedy performances and you see a schluppy slob punching above his weight in some way, normally with a woman, and getting in to some sort of trouble due to his stupidity or laziness. Look for differentiation and all you find is whether or not his character smoked pot – which he normally does.
Great comedy performers of the past have also settled in to a rhythm and persona that works for them. The aforementioned Jim Carrey managed to throw himself around for over a decade before he ran out of steam. More recently Ben Stiller has been screaming and neurotic for years now, not forgetting Bill Murray who is arguably still hoovering up all the cynical, dead-pan roles there are to have.
The difference between those three legends and Rogen? The secret to their longevity? Frequency, quality and participation in other genres.
Sure, Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller have had their fair share of samey, often brilliant, comedy roles such as Ace Ventura or White Goodman in Dodgeball, and Bill Murray has pulled the down-beat card more often than one can care to remember.
But they didn’t do it all the time like Rogen.
A glance at Carrey’s resume shows his excursions into drama, playing straight-faced roles in the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the charming Man on the Moon, and the prognostic Truman Show.
Even Stiller, even Stiller, has earned his stripes in Greenberg and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, playing entirely variant roles with real integrity.
Finally with Murray, everyone is aware of his painfully good dramatic work in Lost In Translation. While there are other examples, no more are required.
It isn’t that Rogen is bad – he’s great, and has just as much right as any comedy performer to explore a persona that he feels comfortable with, especially when improvising.
The problem is that he is mismanaged – by himself and his advisors – towards a repetitive career direction that may ultimately be fatal; a dead end.
All Rogen needs is variety so we can continue to enjoy his silly, stoner – and occasionally funny – comedies. Maybe if he took some time to concentrate on other types of projects, the ideas and humour for his favourite genre’s escapades would begin to improve back towards his previous standards.
Maybe he just needs a break from it.
God knows I do.
What do you think? Let us know via
As promised, here is the final trailer for The Interview, starring Rogen and James Franco.