Tag: seth rogen

Long Shot

Long Shot (2019)
★★ / ★★★★

Odd couple comedy “Long Shot” is a one-note joke elevated by charming performances by Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen, she a beautiful and statuesque U.S. secretary of state who intends to run for president and he a progressive journalist who looks like Regular Joe. Polls predict he will not be good for her numbers. Peppered with light chuckles due to occasionally sharp jabs at our current political climate—the systemic corruption, money in politics, the idiots in office—there is a hint of a merciless romantic comedy here. Instead, we are handed a diluted satire meant for mainstream consumption. When a joke is considered to be too smart or hitting too close to the gut, the strategy is to show slapstick or gross-out humor. As the film drags somewhere in the middle of its two-hour running time, accompanied by awkward tonal shifts, one cannot help but consider a better alternative: a deeper exploration of the clash between ideals of two people on the same side of the political spectrum and less focus on how they would be perceived by the public as a couple. Written for the screen by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. Directed by Jonathan Levine.

The Interview

The Interview (2014)
★★ / ★★★★

Following the one thousandth episode of Skylark Tonight, a television show specializing in silly entertainment interviews, the fame-hungry host, Dave (James Franco), comes across a piece of evidence that the notorious Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a big fan. Dave suggests to his best friend and show producer, Aaron (Seth Rogen), that they ought to try to interview the man because it would surely reel in the big ratings and it is a chance for Aaron to be taken seriously by his peers. The producer is not convinced that the North Korean government will even entertain the idea so imagine his surprise when he gets an official call offering to initiate the process.

“The Interview,” based on the screenplay by Dan Sterling, offers a very funny first half but begins to wilt around the halfway point. A comedy that dares to have a running time of slightly below two hours should have some serious firepower that propels it forward. This film neither has the endurance nor the consistency to be riotously funny all the way. Notice that the second hour drags. Perhaps it might have benefited the final product if it had spent more time on the cutting room floor.

Standing out right away is Franco’s performance as a dim-witted narcissist. Though his histrionic ways of expressing his character’s fervor for the job may prove divisive, his energy makes up for the some of the jokes that do not work on paper nor in execution. I liked that he appears willing to do whatever it takes to get a laugh. The joy in the performance is infectious and one can make a convincing case that the character must be played with a flair for the dramatic given the very nature of his occupation.

Rogen is an effective sounding board for Franco’s constant exaggeration. He plays it smaller but not so minimized that his character fades into the background. Thus, we believe the Dave-Aaron partnership within and outside of the show. It helps that the actors have a slightly different style of comedy and in physicality. As a result, the bromance between them, purposefully awkward at times, works for the most part.

Less amusing is the drawn out section involving the television host and the dictator forging an unexpected friendship. Though I was amused by it initially, I grew tired of it just as quickly. There are only so many ways to keep things fresh between the two especially when we know exactly where the story is heading. More specifically, we know that chaos is bound to happen during or after the interview so it is most unnecessary to withhold getting there. The picture is far from efficient.

Lizzy Caplan who plays a CIA agent assigned to maneuver an assassination attempt is completely wasted. She has no funny line and does nothing particularly interesting or surprising. Caplan plays one of the two women who is supposed to have an important role in the plot, but her talent is not utilized in such a way that would make us like her or see more of her other than to look good in a power suit.

Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, “The Interview” has hilarious cameos during its opening scenes and so the bar is set quite high. Although several attempts are made to meet it, not one is able to surpass it. Particularly painful and a bore to sit through are the action scenes in the third act. It is plain and simple laziness.


Neighbors (2014)
★★ / ★★★★

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) have just moved into their new home and are ecstatic to raise their newborn baby girl in it. Just about everything is going right, aside from occasional concerns that they might have lost their youth and sense of fun, until a fraternity moves in right next door. Mac and Kelly are horrified, but they decide to “play it cool.” After all, they were young and in college once. So, they approach the president of the frat, Teddy (Zac Efron), and make sure all of them start off on the right foot. They do… temporarily. Then the loud partying begins.

You know you’re getting old when you start rooting for the parents more than the college students who just want to have some fun. “Neighbors,” written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, offers more than handful funny individual lines and exchanges, but it is far from a comedy that will stand the test of time, the kind that dares to set a standard. It is passable as light entertainment—nothing more—and there is nothing wrong with that if that is what one was looking for.

I enjoyed the performances as a whole especially Rogen and Byrne who play characters that consider themselves as “hip” mentally but their bodies say otherwise. They are convincing as parents who raise a child together, making a lot of mistakes along the way, and craving for some peace and quiet at the end of the day. Because it is relatively easy to buy into their characters, more due to the actors’ charm than a well-written characterization, Mac and Kelly’s efforts to shut down the fraternity becomes a good source of entertainment. There are few lines they are willing to cross to beat the beer-drinking, pot-smoking college students.

Efron and Dave Franco, the latter playing Pete as the frat’s vice president, also share good chemistry. And like Rogen and Byrne’s characters, these two are also thinly written although the effort is clearly there. I liked that the writers make Teddy and Pete nice guys in general. Sure, in reality, there are frat guys who are plain jerks, but from my personal experience, the guys that I met in college who happen to be in a frat are more like Teddy and Pete. You can approach, talk to, and joke around with them without them having to make you feel bad for not being in their circle of bros.

The greatest limitation of the film, directed by Nicholas Stoller, is its relatively stagnant screenplay. It fails to move beyond two neighbors attempting to get the upper hand. Is the point to show that Mac and Kelly, despite having a house and kid, do have some key similarities with their fun-loving neighbors? It would appear so. But such a message is obvious. Discerning viewers will easily recognize this less than halfway through and the rest becomes repetitive.

A dramatic shift in the latter half might have elevated the material. The two leaders of the fraternity should have been key to create a dramatic pull. First, Pete looking forward to starting his career outside of college. Second, Teddy’s fears that he might have peaked. During the Career Fair scene, a man who works for AT&T tells Teddy that they are not interested in considering to hire someone who is dumb. Efron may not be the most versatile actor—yet—but why not explore those fears a bit more?

The answer is, like in most mainstream comedies, to keep the laughs going. It is less of a risk to try to be funny consistently even if it does not feel right for the material than to switch it up suddenly and really surprise the audience, to give them something they did not expect coming into the picture. Such is the definition of average: no more, no less.

This is the End

This is the End (2013)
★★★ / ★★★★

Seth Rogen is ecstatic that Jay Baruchel is visiting L.A. for the weekend because the two of them have not seen each other for about a year. Though Seth knows that Jay is not that fond of Hollywood and its stereotypical lifestyle, he thinks that Jay’s opinion can be changed by allowing him to meet people who Seth thinks are pretty cool. What better way to socialize than to attend James Franco’s wild party. The fun screeches to a halt, however, when a massive earthquake shakes the city and kills the guests–some of whom are very familiar faces either on television or film.

“This is the End,” based on the screenplay as well as directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, heavily depends upon celebrity power in order to amuse. Though it is not consistently funny, losing its way somewhere in the middle, I found myself unable to contain my laughter when the jokes do work.

The picture’s most crucial limitation is the writers’ decision to allow its six central characters to stay in Franco’s house for too long. While the early scenes are effective because we are bombarded by one performer after another, the novelty wears off as the material gets deeper into the survival. Although part of it is amusing because Rogen, Baruchel, and their friends have no useful skill whatsoever (other than being funny), spending so much time in that nicely decorated home is no fun; there are plenty of dirty jokes and bro-mantic lines but the plot fails to move forward.

When it experiments, it shines. It can focused on the actors trying to survive another day but it just has to be creative. For instance, there are a few scenes that are very reminiscent of Frank Darabont’s “The Mist.” Despite being more comedic than suspenseful, I always feel uneasy whenever a character has ropes tied around his torso and goes toward a place where everybody knows, including himself, he should not be heading.

In addition, the last fifteen minutes feel fresh because the characters are finally given a chance to roam outside where anything can happen. The most successful comedies maintain an element of surprise–whether it be situational, within the dialogue, or through subtle character development. Here, the writing is not very deep–and does not need to be–and so, in a way, the amusement inspired by situations should be exaggerated even further. A good twenty to thirty minutes of the middle portion rests on its laurels.

I enjoyed that everyone is willing to poke fun of themselves. Jonah Hill giving himself a not-so-subtle pat on the back for being considered as a “serious actor” after having co-starred in Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” is a laugh riot. Craig Robinson, meanwhile, capitalizes on his familiar nice-guy persona. I wished the screenwriters had given him a more dramatic angle to play with–again, an element of surprise–because he seems to be up for it. Still, no one tops Michael Cera in playing a cocaine-snorting firecracker. I want to see cokehead Cera starring in his own movie.

Ultimately, inconsistency prevents “This is the End” from becoming more than good entertainment. It will likely hold up on repeated viewings but keep the remote in hand in order to fast-forward through the slower, lumbering, less inspired digressions.

The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet (2011)
★★ / ★★★★

Ever since he was a child, Britt (Seth Rogen) always felt that his father, James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), editor-in-chief of the influential newspaper called the “Daily Sentinel,” prioritized his job over his son. When the media mogul passes away due to an allergic reaction from a bee sting, Britt, along with Kato (Jay Chou), the Reid household’s brilliant mechanic and martial arts expert, decide to decapitate the statue of the deceased.

The duo come across a girl being terrorized by a neighborhood gang. They rescue her before things get really bad. Britt and Kato feel good about saving the girl and beating up some hoodlums, so they put on the shoes of atypical superheroes. In order to really make a difference in the Los Angeles crime scene, they pretend to be criminals in order to get close to the city’s crime lords.

“The Green Hornet,” based on the radio series by George W. Trendle and directed Michel Gondry, manages to pull off a rather entertaining and funny story of regular folks wanting to become something more than they are, something extraordinary. The events that lead up to why the characters believe that superhero-ism is the answer to their problems has a lot of implications in relation to their difficult childhood and how they are perceived by society as adults. Unfortunately, once Kato and Britt finish preparing their masks, weapons, and impressive black car, the story fails to go anywhere remotely interesting.

It settles on being cartoonish. For instance, Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) is a crime boss who is deeply offended when people tell him that he is not scary. In order to be “scary,” he kills those who do not approve of his designer suits. While somewhat amusing on the surface, the character might have worked as a villain–menacing but tragic, narcissistic but exudes cool–if there had been something more to him beyond his conceit. The most interesting superhero movies consist of a hero and a villain complementing each other. They may lie on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of their morality–or lack thereof–but their similarities are not easy to overlook. Chudnofsky is not given a proper backstory so he comes off silly and foolish.

The filmmakers, accidental or otherwise, pull off something a bit unexpected. They make the sidekick more interesting than his counterpart. Kato’s more dramatic scenes hold some weight. When he worked for Britt’s father, he was often reminded that he was less than. Working for Britt, since they are similar in age, Kato hopes that he will finally be treated as an equal. But some things never change. He remains to be perceived as an orphan. That stigma he carries around like a grudge made me want to get to know him more. Meanwhile, I watched Britt in disbelief as he lugs himself around as if he were drunk 24/7.

“The Green Hornet” delivers good, sometimes choppy but consistently energetic, action sequences. What it needs is a focused exploration of the characters’ motivations after they put on their masks. As a result, when the funny gags are thrown at us, we can laugh with our heroes rather than at them.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
★★★ / ★★★★

Young Shen, a peacock, was supposed to lead Gongmen City when he grew up. But when Soothsayer (voiced by Michelle Yeoh), a goat, predicted that someone in black and white was going to thwart his thirst for power, Shen (Gary Oldman) decided to kill pandas all over China. When he returned home, his parents banished him from the city. Years later, bitter Shen reappeared, equipped with newfangled metallic weapons and ravenous but dim-witted wolves, to take back the city, eliminate kung fu, and gain control of China. “Kung Fu Panda 2,” written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, was a hasty but scrumptious sequel filled with non-stop action, cuddly rabbits, funny jokes about the anthropomorphic characters, and gorgeous animation. With a relatively simple storyline, the film wasted no time in sending Po (Jack Black), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross) to release Gongmen City from the evil peacock with feathers as knives. But it was far from an easy task. Each successive action sequence became increasingly difficult for our heroes which meant more complex plans of attack and trickier camera angles. It also meant more scenes where Po had to clandestinely blend into the environment to no avail. I loved the aerial shots especially when the Dragon Warrior and his friends attempted to sneak into the city while in a dancing dragon costume. Looking down, it looked like a helpless caterpillar desperately trying to find its way out of a labyrinth while avoiding nasty predators. I also enjoyed the scene in which our protagonists had to run to the tip of a building as it slowly collapsed. There was a real sense of peril as Po and company were thrown around like rag dolls. Since Shen wielded a myriad cannons, the city was eventually thrown in a state of calamity, its residents dispersing like flies. Although potentially too violent for kids, the filmmakers found a way to hide certain realities. For example, someone who was hit by a cannonball was almost always immediately shown as only slightly wounded but ultimately safe. There was an interesting subplot involving Po’s origins. Po finally realized that Mr. Ping (James Hong), a duck, wasn’t his biological father. Mr. Ping was heartbroken from the prospect of Po treating him differently other than the father who found him in a box, raised, and fed him tons of radishes when he was a baby panda. Fragments of memories began to manifest themselves and they caused turmoil in Po’s mind. It proved to be inconvenient because the only way he could learn a special kung fu move, with the aid of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), was to find inner peace. “Kung Fu Panda 2,” directed by Jennifer Yuh, was surprisingly fresher than newly dug radishes. It is a product of synergy among comedic asides, kinetic martial arts, and the more sentimental scenes between Po and his dad. Most of all, it is a testament that sequels need not rely on typicalities to duplicate the successes of its predecessor. Its ambition and execution make it a solid companion piece.


50/50 (2011)
★★★ / ★★★★

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) seemed like a healthy twenty-seven year old who abstained from smoking and doing drugs. He even chose not to learn to drive a car because it is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. When a pain in his back began to bother him, he decided to see a doctor. The results weren’t good. It turned out that he had a rare cancer and an aggressive form of treatment was necessary. Written by Will Reiser and directed by Jonathan Levine, “50/50” successfully made the topic of cancer easier to digest by highlighting the comedy without losing track of the sadness and fear upon discovering the news and dealing with the reality. The filmmakers made a smart move by making human relationships the primary concern instead of the cancer. Kyle (Seth Rogen) was Adam’s best friend and rock throughout the ordeal. One of the best scenes between the two was in the way Kyle reacted to his friend’s grim diagnosis. Rogen balanced amusing allusions of famous people who had beaten cancer and tenderness without being obnoxious. I was glad that their relationship didn’t have a significant arc. It didn’t need to. There were still unexpected discoveries along the way, but their friendship was a good place. Another important support Adam had was Katherine (Anna Kendrick), a young, perky counselor working on her doctorate. Their interactions were amusing because there was an awkwardness in their attempt to find a solid footing with something new: Katherine and her job; Adam and his cancer. Adam and Katherine shared wonderful chemistry but it wasn’t creepy, unethical, nor inappropriate. Through their conversations, they learned to form a special friendship. We rooted for them to take that next step without forgetting the fact that there should be a line between a professional and her client. However, there were some connections that weren’t as strongly established. Diane (Anjelica Huston), Adam’s mom, was always worried about her son. Adam felt suffocated by her ways of showing affection and he constantly felt the need to prove that he was strong and capable of being independent. I wanted to know more about that tension between mother and son, the mother’s specific feelings in no longer being needed. Huston was only given about half a dozen scenes and she made the best out of all of them. I think that if her character was closer to the center, the actress’ talent for balancing regal quiet power and in-your-face emotions would’ve made the project soar. Lastly, the conflict involving Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), Adam’s girlfriend, sometimes felt forced. I understood that the point was some people are just not equipped enough to handle long-term sickness. I appreciated that the filmmakers acknowledged that reality. Unfortunately, it all boiled down to whether or not she would ultimately stay with Adam. It felt out of place, too shallow, for a movie about mortality. “50/50” is a reminder: When you do have that moment where you catch yourself staring miserably at your empty glass, people who love you in the best ways possible can fill it right up. Then it doesn’t seem so bad.


Paul (2011)
★★★ / ★★★★

Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), British comic book fans, on their way to explore the legendary Area 51 came across an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), on the run from government officials who wanted to exploit his extraterrestrial abilities. Written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, “Paul” was a quick-witted buddy road trip comedy equipped with a plethora of references to various sci-fi pop culture, obscure and mainstream. The film opened at the San Diego Comic Con. While it did make fun of fans dressing up as their favorite movie and comic book characters, it was never mean-spirited in its approach. In fact, it was a rather good start. Its bona fide sense of humor, situational or otherwise, was exactly why we wanted to follow Graeme and Clive in their epic, awkward, exciting adventure. As usual, Pegg and Frost had wonderful chemistry. The way they delivered their lines and the way they moved around each other convinced me that their characters were true BFFs. I looked at the CGI Paul with grand curiosity. Initially, I found him to be rather stoic. But the longer I stared at him, the more easily I could identify his subtle facial expressions; I almost wanted him to be my pet. He was funny and rather harmless. More importantly, the writing took advantage of the strange creature on screen. We learned specifics in terms of his abilities. For instance, while he had the power to become invisible by whim, he could only do it if he held his breath. Gifts with limitations are interesting. The government agent in charge of capturing Paul was called Agent Zoil (As in Lorenzo Zoil–get it?), gleefully played by Jason Bateman. Bateman being serious in a picture like this was like watching a giraffe attempting to do somersaults. It just didn’t ring together. However, it worked. His attempt to suppress his little ticks was what made the role funnier than it should have been. Also, there was a balance. We saw glimpses of how dangerous he could be. As he aimed his gun toward a moving target, I found myself holding my breath. I took the intensity in his eyes quite seriously and I didn’t expect to. His fellow agents (Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio), ambitious but incompetent and rash, highlighted the man in black’s intractable goal of getting to Paul first. One of the qualities I admired most about the film was it didn’t overwhelm us with cryptic allusions. There were obvious camera angles which served to highlight an important science fiction actor walking in on a frame. I didn’t get some of the references but I wasn’t bothered by them. Either I felt like I was still in on the joke or I was too preoccupied wondering what would happen next. “Paul” was sweet but never sentimental, funny but never obnoxious. I did wish, however, that we could have seen more of the alien hotspots that Graeme and Clive visited. After all, they were supposed to be on an epic road trip. And I would have been floored if Special Agents Mulder and Scully from “The X-Files” made brief appearances. Still, the picture did do without.

Funny People

Funny People (2009)
★★ / ★★★★

“Funny People,” written and directed by Judd Apatow, stars a bunch of funny people: Adam Sandler as a senior comedian who discovers that he has a fatal disease, Seth Rogen as an aspiring comedian who Sandler hires to write jokes for him, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman as Rogen’s flatmates, Leslie Mann as Sandler’s ex-lover and Eric Bana as Mann’s unfaithful husband. Unfortunately, the material was not as funny as I expected it to be. In fact, it was quite serious because the lead character was obviously depressed because of his doomed fate. There were a few jokes with chuckling from here and there but there were no laugh-out-loud funny moments as they were in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” or “Knocked Up.” If Apatow was aiming for some sort of a dark comedy because it did (or was supposed to) have jokes about death, then I believe it completely failed on that level. I had major problems with Sandler’s character because I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel sorry for him. Not for one second did I feel bad for him because he was a jerk even to those who obviously cared for him. When his character finally met up with Mann after years of not seeing each other, he fell in love with her all over again but I didn’t buy it. After all, how could a guy who didn’t value himself and his friendships value some kind of a romantic relationship (and a flimsy one at that)? The film wasn’t logical and it should have been because this picture was supposed to be for adults. I was more interested in the angle regarding what it took to be a successful comedian instead of Sandler’s so-called plight. I enjoyed the cameos from Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, Charles Fleischer, Eminem, Ray Romano, and others. With such a brilliant cast who are very funny in other movies, this film failed to take risks. Instead it featured one contrived and sometimes uncomfortable moments on top of one another. If it weren’t for the breathers (such as the cameos) that had nothing to do with the drama in the character’s depressing lives, I would have been harsher with this picture. If you’re a fan of any of the names mentioned, then by all means, see it. However, I warn you to not expect too much because it doesn’t have enough meat to carry a two-hour-and-thirty-minute feature.

Observe and Report

Observe and Report (2009)
★ / ★★★★

Was this supposed to be a comedy? I was skeptical because the laughs were very sporadic and the drama sometimes overshadowed the jokes. Seth Rogen stars as a mall cop who one day decided that he was going to be a police offer in order to impress a makeup counter girl (Anna Faris). When a flasher started pulling off stunts at the mall, Rogen’s character thought that by catching the guy, it would solidify his place in the police academy. But a detective (Ray Liotta) was also determined to catch the flasher and he would do anything in his power to stop the lead character from achieving his goals. I thought this movie was going to be light because of the cast. It turned out that our lead character had Bipolar Personality Disorder (BPD) and that was often made fun of by showing that he was violent, quick-tempered and had delusions of grandeur. I didn’t appreciate it at all because I’ve learned about people with BPD and it is far from a laughing matter. But the so-called jokes didn’t stop there. I also didn’t like the all-too-common gay jokes; there’s a way to be politically incorrect yet still remain funny as long as the jokes are good-natured and everyone is in on a joke. This one simply started throwing things out there in a random fashion without some minute thought regarding its writing and direction. The best scenes in this picture were anything with Faris in it because I think she’s just naturally funny and charismatic even if the quality of the material doesn’t give her justice. But at the same time I think she’s miscast because the lead character was supposed to realize that the girl he liked didn’t like him back–at least not while sober–and she was just using him for convenience. Faris’ character needed some more aggression and maybe even a bit of sexiness and darkness. Nonetheless, the rest of the picture didn’t quite hold up because all of the characters are more like caricatures. Everyone is playing the extreme stereotype (especially the alcoholic mother played by Celia Weston) and I quickly got tired of it. Written and directed by Jody Hill (“The Foot Fist Way”), “Observe and Report” was a huge disappointment considering that the cast’s talent was completely wasted in one-note jokes and unfunny (in fact, quite cringe-worthy) slapstick.

Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
★★ / ★★★★

While the animation does look great in 3D, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would because it didn’t have enough heart. Essentially, as the title suggests, monsters must battle aliens. Reese Witherspoon lends her voice as Susan Murphy, a woman who gets turned into a giant after being in contact with a meteorite. Other stars include Seth Rogen as B.O.B the blob, Hugh Laurie as Dr. Cockroach Ph.D., Will Arnett as The Missing Link, Kiefer Sutherland as General W.R. Monger, Rainn Wilson as the villanous Gallaxhar, Stephen Colbert as the President of the United States, and Paul Rudd as Derek Dietl, Susan’s self-centered husband-to-be. Their voices didn’t distract me from the story but I wish the story was more interesting. Even though there’s references to other movies like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and the soundtrack has something to do with outer space such as The B-52’s “Planet Claire,” I found it hard to fully get into the characters because they didn’t show enough vulnerability. They may be amusing from time to time but their other dimensions could’ve been explored. Although this was obviously made for children under ten years old, animated films like “WALL-E” and “Finding Nemo” show that it is possible to include adults while targeting children. The writing just has to be sharp enough to include jokes that are relevant to the film’s universe while at the same time incorporating common issues like friendship, self-reliance and maturation. In “Monsters vs. Aliens,” I felt like the priority was on the visuals instead of the emotion so there was this jarring disconnect between me and the picture. With a little more time rewriting certain aspects of this film, I can see its potential to become as memorable as “Monsters, Inc.” and “Monster House.” Instead, just rent it on DVD instead of watching it in theaters. One won’t be missing much until then.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
★★ / ★★★★

This Kevin Smith comedy started off well but it got more tiring as it went on. Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen star as two “strictly just friends” friends who share an apartment but can’t pay the bills on time (or at all). After attending their high school reunion, Rogen gets a crazy idea on how to pay their expenses: make a porno. Unfortunately, the downside of this film is the eventual realization of the two leads: their love for one another goes beyond friendship. I felt like the director forcefully wanted to include the female audiences after showing one rude (but hilarious) joke after another. It wasn’t necessary because, in my opinion, female audiences can enjoy dirty jokes as much as the male audiences. If this film had ended before Banks and Rogen realize that they’re in love with one another, it would’ve been so much stronger. The scenes that involve slow motions that are supposed to hint that Banks is getting jealous of Rogen (and vice-versa) are annoying at best. Kevin Smith is a much more talented director than that (his ear for dialogue is sharp) and I really felt like he wants to hammer certain points when he really did not need to. The best part of this film is Justin Long as one of the boyfriends of one of Zack and Miri’s former classmates. He knows what to say at just the right times; not to mention the certain inflections he attached to certain words made a very amusing wordplay. I wish he was in the film a lot more because he has that certain energy that the rest of the cast lacked. Another surprise was Ricky Mabe as one of the would-be pornstars. I knew he looked familiar, and half-way through the film I realized that he was in one of my favorite episodes of “Goosebumps” called “How to Kill a Monster” back in 1997. I wish to see him more in the future. Overall, I would have been happy to recommend this picture if it didn’t try to be romantic. Instead, it becomes another forgettable film by Kevin Smith.