01 August 2009

Seth Rogen: Adam Sandler v2.0

As not only a self-respecting female but also a person who tends to value her intellect, I'm usually not a fan of slapstick stoner humor. While I will reluctantly admit that I did own a VHS copy of Dude, Where's My Car? back in the day, I've usually prided myself on my sophisticated, intelligent, and diverse collection of favorite films. So, when the trailers for Knocked Up starting playing between every other Subway commercial, I was sure that I was not going to spend the then ticket price of $8.50 to see it, and should I happen to be duped into watching it, I would not enjoy it. But I was proved wrong. That was 2007 when Seth Rogen scored his first starring role, and in two short years, his name is a household word. How on earth did this pudgy, goofy kid from Canada almost immediately skyrocket to the forefront of American cinema, literally redefining comedy as we know it? Seth has dominated the box office, with a starring role in six movies in eighteen months, and not a flop yet! When does this guy sleep? I honestly think a big portion of his success is a similar formula to that of his mentor, Adam Sandler, which can really be broken down into three basic principals. 1) Like Sandler, Rogen plays basically the same character in every movie: working class, goofy-looking, out of shape, averagely intelligent, and oddly enough, Jewish. Their characters are probably pretty close to their actual personas, assuming that both actors are actually likeable people in reality, which is probably true based on the interviews I've watched. This creates a reliable character structure that fans can depend on and relate to. 2. Also like Sandler, Rogen has a consistent group of actors he works with in every movie. I think this is a really important aspect of the formula because Rogen has already found co-stars he's comfortable working with and has a good rapport with, and who are comedically on a slightly lower scale of success than him, so they complement his style while also making him look better in comparison. 3. While Rogen's movies often include characters that embody the more fucked up people we encounter, his character is never one them. Therefore, Rogen's humor is in large part his responses to these characters, or just brings out the humor in talking about weird situations in the way we imagine we would. Only way more entertaining.

In any case, all of this comes to mind with the recent release of Funny People, which looks to be the long-awaited pairing of two comedic geniuses in one film. From what I've heard about the film's plot (and believe me, I've tried to avoid as much information as possible), it looks as though Funny People will be the metaphoric handing down of the torch. Sandler broke formula rule #2 with Don't Mess With the Zohan, a total flop at the box office. I'm seeing Funny People tomorrow with my dad. Expect a review!

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