Seth Rogen

Christmas photo
Christmas

Red band trailer for The Night Before full of bromance and vomit


YOU CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL
Jul 28
// Matthew Razak
The first trailer for The Night Before, a film that will hopefully be a new holiday classic for adults, is here and its full of what you'd expect from a film with Seth Rogen. There's plenty of dumb comedy and drug use and cam...
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Neighbors renews its lease


Sequel will arrive in 2016
Feb 06
// Jonathan Wray
Neighbors had, to me, one of the most memorable, laugh-out-loud trailers in recent memory. Unfortunately, and perhaps personally, the film didn't deliver quite as many laughs. The general public seems to disagree, howeve...
Steve Jobs photo
Steve Jobs

Universal's Steve Jobs film gets official title and cast


Jan 28
// Nick Valdez
This Steve Jobs biopic has been through the ringer. After years of director changes, big stars (Christian Bale) joining and leaving the film, and Sony dropping the project after budget concerns, Steve Jobs (the film's now off...

Nick's Top 15 Movies of 2014

Jan 16 // Nick Valdez
30-16: The Lego Movie, The Babadook, 22 Jump Street, The Purge: Anarchy, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Maleficent, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Snowpiercer, Frank, Top Five, Gone Girl, Pride, The Drop, Nymphomaniac Vol 1, A Most Violent Year 15. Locke  I nearly missed out on Locke. With the smallest of small releases, I didn't see this until it was recommended by a friend a few weeks ago. I'm super glad I finally took the plunge. It's got the weirdest barrier of entry (it's better if you see it at night, you have to be in the right mindset), but it's totally worth the trouble. In a year full of bloated blockbusters, Locke is the concise breath of fresh air that reminds you what cinema is capable of. In the length of a Sunday night drive, Tom Hardy goes through so many complicated emotions. Enclosed, intimate, and fantastic.  14. Nightcrawler Nightcrawler (and Enemy, in fact) proved Jake Gyllenhaal still has some sides of his acting talent hidden away. With a strikingly dark, yet practical performance, he sells the film's dissection of sensationalist journalism. Literally crawling through the muck, Nightcrawler portrays the opposite end of ambition. When ambition morphs into an unhealthy aggression, one of the best films of 2014 was born.  Read our review of Nightcrawler here. 13. John Wick John Wick was an utter surprise and delight. Literally coming out of nowhere with a generic trailer that made the film seem like nothing more than a direct to home video action film mistakenly released to theaters, John Wick has a fantastic setting (I want another movie of just interactions within the assassin hotel hideout), wonderfully choreographed action (Keanu Reeves is really Neo at this point, which made the fantastical nature of the fights even more believable), and a story with so many cheesy twists and turns I fell in love instantly. Oh and the dog, Daisy! Oh. My. God. 12. Boyhood Filmed over the course of twelve years, it sort of makes sense to put Boyhood here. Both as a little dig, and because while I love what it did for cinema (and how much I enjoyed it directly afterward), I'm not as fond of it as I thought I was. While some of Mason's life speaks to me (I too had a drunk and abusive parent, was also directionless for the majority of life), a lot of it glazed over what my life was really like. Yeah, I know Boyhood won't be a depiction of my life, but it kind of stung to see someone live a happier life than mine. I don't hold it against the film critically (that's why it's here), but I'll never truly connect with it the way I think I'm supposed to.  Read our review of Boyhood here. 11. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes APEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is what we get for not hailing to the chimp. A summer blockbuster that was not only intelligent, well paced, and full of stunning visuals, but made me expect more out of my popcorn flicks. Bad action and explosions just aren't going to cut it anymore. Dawn says we can have both AND be a successful prequel/sequel at the same time. It doesn't get any better. This is what blockbusters should strive to.  Read our review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes here. 10. The Guest The Guest is a film that will forever be welcome in my home. Before my screening, I knew nothing of it other than it was a follow up from the You're Next (which is also a film you need to see someday) duo of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. Figuring they were kind of a one trick pony (sorry, guys), I expected a run of the mill thriller with a genre twist at the end. But that's nowhere near the case with Guest. Completely confident in its lead Dan Stevens (with good reason), the film is full throttle from beginning to end. Its tone is never once tiring. With its homages to older horror films, a groovy synth inspired soundtrack, stylistic filming (there's a great use of light throughout) and fantastically staged finale, The Guest was one of my favorite movie going experiences last year. Read our review of The Guest here. 9. Joe Wow, so where has THIS Nicolas Cage been? We make fun of the guy for signing up for everything and anything, but he's some kind of wicked genius. It's when we forget how talented of an actor he can be that he decides to come out with a legitimately gripping performance. That's the heart of Joe. Three great performances (from Cage, Tye Sheridan, and the now passed Gary Poulter) root this tale in the South with the most human characters I saw last year. Remember Your Highness? This is from the same director. I just can't believe that.  Read our review of Joe here. 8. Edge of Tomorrow Just like with Nic Cage, Tom Cruise always has a surprise up his sleeve for when we forget how talented he is. It appears that both actors can truly surprise given the right material. Edge of Tomorrow (or whatever the hell it's named now) is a science fiction story about how some nerdy, cowardly man transforms into action star Tom Cruise after dying a thousand times. In the most unique premise of any science fiction film in recent memory (which is saying quite a bit as you can allude to sources like videogames), a man's life gets a reset button every time he's killed in a battle leading to some of the best and hilarious editing of 2014. And you know what else? Emily Blunt is a killer viking goddess badass and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Read our review of Edge of Tomorrow/All You Need is Kill/Live.Die.Repeat here. 7. Birdman Speaking of actors we've forgotten about, out comes Michael Keaton reminding us how much of a juggernaut he is. Sure he's had some subversive turns in films like The Other Guys, Toy Story 3 and RoboCop recently, but I haven't seen him challenged like this in a long time. Birdman breaks down Keaton and builds him back up again. A heartbreaking, absurd, hilarious, soul crushing, wonderfully shot film, Birdman is truly the peak of artistic creativity. Too bad Keaton overshadowed everyone else. But is that such a bad problem to have?  Read our review of Birdman here. 6. The Grand Budapest Hotel Budapest was my very first Wes Anderson film experience, and I'm so glad I finally took the plunge. Budapest is a film full of so much love, hard work, and time that it could only be put together after as long career. With one of the most outstanding casts (each utilized to the fullest, even in the smaller roles), a vignette style story, and an amazing performance from Ralph Fiennes, Budapest had my attention from beginning to end. The reason it's not higher on this list is because there were a few that had my attention a little bit more. And that's definitely tough in this case.  Read our review of The Grand Budapest Hotel here. 5. The Interview Say what you will about whether or not The Interview "deserved" all of the problems it caused, or whether or not it's some stupid exercise of free speech, underneath all of the drama, The Interview was the funnest experience I had last year. It's not some grand satire of North Korea's politics, nor is it your patriotic duty to witness it unfold, but you'd do yourself a disservice by missing out. Well tuned humor, great performances (with some of the best James Franco faces) led by Randall Park, and an explosive finale you're sure to remember. The Interview is a firework. Boom, boom, boom.  Read our review of The Interview here. 4. Whiplash On the opposite end of the spectrum is Whiplash. A film I had no idea existed full of darkness. Yet, that darkness is truly compelling. J.K. Simmons is a fantastic lead (if you tell me Miles Teller is the lead, I will politely ask you to leave) with a performance that's striking, violent, and full of the best kind of black humor. Imagine if his turn as J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man was even more aggressive, and you've got Whiplash. Backing up Simmons is a truly great film that's more about a bloody need to prove you're the best. Intense, rich, and has an a different kind of explosive finale.  Read our review of Whiplash here. 3. Obvious Child  Within a year so full of men that even the cartoons resemble our landscape, Obvious Child stood out from the outset. I've always loved comedienne Jenny Slate as she's great at creating tragically trashy characters,  but I was just waiting for her to break out. And the wait's been worth it. Based off a short film of the same name, Obvious Child tackles not often spoken topics like womanhood, abortion, and late twenties uncertainty with not only tact, but a sophisticated and illuminating point of view with often hilarious results. Jenny Slate is a dynamo as Donna Stern, and the film ending's blend of awkwardness and hope still gives me chills.  2. Palo Alto As James Franco continues to branch out, some of his projects don't go over so well but are nonetheless interesting. His collection of short stories, Palo Alto, and its adaptation got some attention a few months back because Franco himself inadvertently hit on an underage girl on Instagram. That's the only reason I knew about the project, and now I realize how wrong I was. Palo Alto is f**king fantastic for all involved. A well realized weave of stories helped established a broken, and compelling world. I was so invested, I couldn't help but want more. Yet, we're given just the right amount of story thanks to Gia Coppola's outstanding direction.  Featuring an eclectic cast with Franco as a creepy teacher, Emma Roberts as a misguided teen, Jack (and to a lesser extent, Val) Kilmer as a lost kid, and Nat Wolff with the most emotionally charged performance of the year. Seriously, I could not believe that the kid from The Naked Brothers Band had some talent. The final scene of the film where he charges into the night has stuck with me to this day.  1. Fury With how much Obvious Child and Palo Alto stuck with me, only one film did much more. As a fan of David Ayer's career, I was on top of Fury from day one. Though my anticipation sort of wavered in the middle thanks to some bad trailer editing, and I didn't think Logan Lerman was going to be an effective lead, once I sat down with the film all of that faded away. Fury is magnificent. Five terrific performances anchor the film's small story within this admittedly overwrought setting. Fury isn't a typical WWII film, and it delivers with a not so typical emotionally charged finale.  And Shia LaBeouf? Thank you for giving up all of that Transformers trash. This is what you're meant to do.  Read our review of Fury here.  What are your favorite movies from 2014? Did I miss any of your favorites? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! While you're at it, why not check out my Top 5 Animated Movies of 2014, Top 5 Sequels, Top 10 Movie Music Moments, and 2014's Best Dog in Film lists too!
Nick's Top 15 of 2014 photo
I have seen 107 films released in 2014. Here are 15 of the best ones
It was the best of films, it was the blurst of films. Hey everyone I'm Nick Valdez, News Editor here for Flixist and you've probably seen my name on a good chunk of the stuff written here. If not, then I'll tell you a bit abo...


Nick's Top 10 Movie Music Moments of 2014

Jan 14 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mentions: Birdman - Flight scene, Snowpiercer - "What happens if the engine stops?," The Skeleton Twins - "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," 22 Jump Street - "Ass-n-Titties," Into the Woods - "Agony" [embed]218773:42129:0[/embed] 10. The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part 1 - "The Hanging Tree" as performed by Jennifer Lawrence Every year there seems to be a song that's meant to break into mainstream pop. Usually by happenstance, or some kind of weird popularity spike, and "The Hanging Tree" is 2014's single. Written by the Lumineers (with influence from the original text), and given an odd dance backing so it can be played on the radio, this moment may have been forced but it did show off the first actual rebellion against the Capitol. Like other parts of Mockingjay - Part 1, the scene finally opens up the world beyond Katniss and her compatriots.  [embed]218773:42130:0[/embed] 9. The Lego Movie - "Everything is Awesome/(Untitled) Self Portrait"  "Everything is awesome, everything is cool when your part of a team" was 2014's "Let It Go." There's a dollar theater in my town next to the local grocery, and when I first heard a little girl singing that song, I knew we had a winner. The scene it's used in doesn't hit perfect status until the "12 Hours Later" bit but it's still very good. Even better? Batman's demo tape, "DARKNESS! NO PARENTS!" [embed]218773:42132:0[/embed] 8. Guardians of the Galaxy - "Come And Get Your Love"  As critics like myself (although I'd like to think I'm as far from that definition as possible) continue to worry over the staleness of Marvel's films, the intro to Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a nonchalantly groovin Chris Pratt dancing to a once forgotten Redbone tune, helps alleviate some of that worry. Starting off on the right foot, this scene helped set the tone for Marvel's future. It's going to be a lot more fun.  [embed]218773:42134:0[/embed] 7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - "Elevator Beatbox"  You won't see the TMNT movie on many Best of 2014 lists, but I've got to credit where it's due. It may have be clouded by a bunch of odd decisions, but the Turtles themselves were great. Although they looked like giant steroid hulks, the few times they got to act like their "Teenage" namesake truly stood out. This came to a head in the elevator ride before the final battle with Shredder. It's the most fun scene in this film, and it's completely unnecessary when you think about it. But it's full of so much personality it's hard to care. I want the sequel to basically be this scene x 100.  [embed]218773:42133:0[/embed] 6. The Guest - "Anthonio" The Guest has one of the best soundtracks of 2014. Fusing synth pop and trance together with little known European Pop remixes, and coupling them with a nostalgic run through the horror genre lead to one of the best musically inclined films of the year. The Guest owes most of its successes to its soundtrack and it's never better than the final scene. A stare down, a remix of Annie's "Anthonio," and a sinister Dan Stevens are a match made in heaven.  [embed]218773:42135:0[/embed] 5. The Book of Life - "Just A Friend/The Apology Song/I Will Wait" as performed by Diego Luna, Cheech Marin, and Gabriel Iglesias I think The Book of Life'll be the only time I hear Tejano-inspired music in film and that's a bit sad. Like me, it takes influences from classic pop tunes and unapologetically puts a little Mexican flair into each one. There's too many awesome songs to name (but the one touted as the "big" one, where Diego Luna performs a cover of "Creep," is kind of lame) with the too brief "Just a Friend," and the great "Apology Song" sung to a flaming skeletal bull in the Land of the Forgotten, but my favorite is definitely the montage set to "I Will Wait." It's hilarious, critiques Mexican culture, and it just sounds so pleasant.  [embed]218773:42137:0[/embed] 4. The Interview - "Firework" as performed by Jenny Lane Although the clip above doesn't refer to the scene on this list (as it's much better to experience it without being spoiled), trust me when I say that it's truly a great movie music moment. The scene that launched a thousand emails, and was most likely toned down in retrospect, but it's a damn fun scene. Much like the rest of The Interview, it makes sense in the most absurd way. Hope you get to see it for yourself.  [embed]218773:42138:0[/embed] 3. X-Men: Days of Future Past - "Time in a Bottle" With as many comic book films I see now, they all start to blend in together after awhile. What woke me up from my haze, however, was Days of Future Past. While the rest of the film followed the same beats, and Quicksilver himself wasn't the most interesting addition, I've never seen a better demonstration of super speed. Sure we've seen this type of slowdown in films like The Matrix, but I can't recall seeing it used so humorously. It's the little touches that made everything work.  [embed]218773:42136:0[/embed] 2. Frank - "Secure the Galactic Perimeter/I Love You All" as performed by Michael Fassbender Frank is a film about twelve people saw, and that's a damn shame. It's got some of the best music from 2014. The songs were notably assembled by the cast (and not even available in full on the soundtrack) and they're just so weird. Good weird. While the final song "I Love You All" gets the full bump on this list, it doesn't really mesh as well as it should until you've seen the film. Once you've seen the film, learned of all of Frank's quibbles, then it truly comes together.  [embed]218773:42139:0[/embed] 1. Whiplash - "Caravan" as performed by Miles Teller God, Whiplash has the best f**king music. That finale? So gooooooooooooooood. What are your favorite music moments of 2014? Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! Stay tuned through the rest of the week for more "Best Of" lists! 
Nick's Top 10 Music photo
Music to my eyes
Music plays an integral role in film. Easily ignored, easily forgotten, a film's soundtrack is the little celebrated framework of cinema. But when sound and sight marry into a great scene, you get some of the best moments. Li...

VOD photo
VOD

The Interview grossed $31 million on VOD despite piracy


Jan 09
// Nick Valdez
When Sony released The Interview on most video demand services but its own, it was promptly pirated nearly 100 million times. At first it seemed like this news would only deter studios from simultaneous theatrical and VOD rel...

Why what The Interview says about North Korea actually matters (an analysis)

Dec 26 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
I feel like Flixist has become an inadvertent "Interview Defense Force." Between Nick's glowing review of the film and... well, this article you're reading, it seems like we're one of the only places that legitimately thinks it's a film worth watching. I don't like it as much as Nick does, but I'd be a dirty liar if I said that it didn't make me laugh a whole lot. I also think that if all of this hadn't happened, the film would have gotten a somewhat more favorable reaction. A lot of people went into it with the same mindset I had when I wrote "Why did it have to be The Interview?" and their experience was colored by that. I'm more easily won over by stupid jokes than they are, clearly, but it's a bad mindset to start from. And speaking of mindset: If you went into The Interview expecting The Great Dictator, you were just being dumb. I've seen this comparison made (obviously with a "Chaplin made a good satirical film, so this has no excuse" bent), and I think it's ludicrous. Although both of them share a conceptual similarity (lampooning one of the most dangerous men on earth), the work of Charlie Chaplin was always holding a mirror up to society where Seth Rogen's films rarely have much to say at all. They're funny. That's all they've got. If The Great Dictator hadn't been a scathing indictment, that would have been more surprising. But the minds behind The Interview have no such reputation.  Even so, The Interview is different. When you take on a dictatorship, you have to go beyond the surface. Seth Rogen was one of the final guests on The Colbert Report, and the interview came before the shitstorm that saw the film blocked and then canceled and then uncanceled and then released on VOD and in theaters simultaneously. (Quick aside: The ludicrously high piracy numbers are unfortunate not because they represent stealing work from a company that was so afraid of this film that their name doesn't appear anywhere in the credits (though Columbia, whose name does appear, is a Sony subsidiary), but because the idea of VOD day-and-date releases has just been set back at least a couple of years by this. Companies will (not wrongly) use those numbers as evidence that the public can't be trusted. That is a shame. Now, back to your previously scheduled programming:) During that interview, Seth Rogen talked about the research that went into creating this film, where he and others in the creative team read pretty much everything there was to read about the experience of living in the country. He said that they wanted to show, in some small way, just how terrible a place this was. And if we're being totally honest, they don't actually show it, but they do make their feelings on the atrocities clear.  [embed]218772:42093:0[/embed] This film is more than just a film about killing Kim Jong-un. Not much more, but more. Those who say it belittles some of the real human tragedy won't be wrong, but the film still deserves at least a little more credit than it's gotten. I know enough about the fake presentation that North Korea puts on for the rest of the world, with the exact sort of not-real grocery stores that the film portrays, because I find it fascinating. Does your average person, the person most likely to go see a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, know about that? Be honest with yourself. The answer to that question is No, they don't. This will be the first exposure a lot of people have to that. Maybe they'll see it and be interested, going off to read more in-depth books or see other films. It may be used for comedic effect, but it's just something that's inherently bizarre. I can imagine a lot of people looking up whether or not those fake grocery stores exist, and then they go down the rabbit hole. You can argue that that's not enough, and I would acknowledge that the true horrors of the regime are referred to rather than actually seen. But let's go back to the simple fact that this film is a comedy. And ask yourself this question: Would you feel better if a comedy had James Franco running around a concentration camp mugging for the camera? Or actually seeing the millions of starving people? No. Instead of complaining about the film not doing enough, people would be arguing that it's exploitative or whatever. There was no way for this movie to win. It could have gone farther and still functioned, sure, but it's an extremely fine line, and for the purposes of mainstream entertainment, The Interview stayed on the safe side of it. I'm not going to blame them for that. And as mainstream (keyword) entertainment (also keyword), The Interview always had the potential to reach millions upon millions of people. And with all of the insanity that surrounded it, it has likely already been seen by more than a million (legally or not). That fact is worth acknowledging, if not applauding. No film that hoped to document the true tragedy of the North Korean experience could ever hope for that kind of reach. And let's be honest: As it was, this film barely came out. Even in its current form, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai personally stepped in to tone the film down. If it had gone farther, the project wouldn't have gone further. Gore Verbinski's Pyongyang was canceled. It shouldn't have been, but that's fear. The same fear that Sony felt with the film as it is. And as it is, it's pretty tame.  But tame or not, let's think about how it could actually make a difference: The most interesting internal email from the Sony hack regarded someone deep in the government who saw potential for The Interview to be used as propaganda. There are entire groups of people who work to bring foreign films into their borders, at literal risk of death. This is a film that will undoubtedly make it into North Korea. People will watch this film there, and they will see not just a vision of the outside world, but the outside world's vision of North Korea. They will see how the world perceives them, but they may also see something that they recognize, something that rings true. Hell, that's what the entire third act of the film is about. It's about belittling the government in the eyes of it's people. It's about subversion in order to begin the revolt. It's about getting people to see Kim Jong-un not as a god but as a fallible man, one who loves Katy Perry and has the same bodily functions as the rest of us. And that matters, no matter what else the film does or doesn't accomplish. Team America (a better film than The Interview) took on North Korea before, but this goes so much further, and so much harsher. As I've said already, we don't see the true horror of North Korea, but we see a mastermind of manipulation, a man who will kill people at a moment's notice to prove his power. (Of all the things the film doesn't show, that's the one I most wish it had. But then again, public executions aren't much funnier than concentration camps.) And we do hear some shocking numbers, the number of hungry people, the number of workers in concentration camps. It may be more effective to see than to hear, but have the people inside of North Korea heard those numbers? Probably not. They know they're starving or may know others in their community who are, but they don't necessarily know just how horrible conditions are for everyone. Look at this as a film for the North Koreans, and suddenly things change. It becomes a film that is far more subversive than people give it credit for. There are serious problems with its depictions of pretty much any group of people, and there are arguments to be made that it's racist, sexist, and homophobic (though not maliciously so), but it still has the potential to reach people and make them think about the North Korean regime. People see Kim Jong-un as silly, not dangerous. The Interview portrays him as both. That may not be enough, but it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. That is something to be celebrated. So let's celebrate. Who brought the fireworks?
The Interview Analysis photo
Alternately: Why it had to be The Interview
I saw The Interview because I was curious. Amidst the complete ridiculousness of the past few weeks, thoughts and feelings have been flying around about the film. Outside of the few who had attended pre-chaos press screenings...

Review: The Interview

Dec 25 // Nick Valdez
[embed]218768:42087:0[/embed] The InterviewDirectors: Seth Rogen and Evan GoldbergRelease Date: December 25th, 2014 (limited and VOD)Rating: R The Interview is the story of Dave Skylark (James Franco), a sensationalist TV journalist who specializes in celebrity gossip, and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen). After filming 1000 episodes, Aaron realizes he would like to cover more hard hitting news and after discovering that the dictator of The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), was a fan of their show, he sets up a one-on-one interview. Then the two are tasked by CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to assassinate the North Korean dictator.  I've been anticipating The Interview for some time. As the proper follow up to last year's extremely surprising This is the End (as I refuse to count Neighbors' major misstep), I've come to expect a certain level of intelligence from Rogen and Goldberg. Sure their screenplays are littered with crude jokes (and The Interview follows that trend for better or worse), but when broken down, the core of the comedy always comes from a well thought out place. The Interview does not disappoint in this area. The dialogue is tightly written and well delivered leading to some amazing back and forth from Rogen and Franco. As the two tap into a years developed chemistry (that's so fine tuned that Franco gets major laughs from just his facial expressions), the incredible ridiculousness of the premise is digestible. Even when the film goes to some outlandish lengths, the two always anchor the ship and point the comedy in the right direction.  While the comedy is well thought out, there is an unfortunate sense of familiarity however. As some of the better gags lead to callbacks later in the film, it's like the film depends on those gags to survive instead of crafting new ones. To be more specific, there's the term "honeypotting." Interview defines it as using seduction to manipulate (instead of the actual disgusting definition) and while it's a notable gag the first time it's used, it runs out of steam the more and more the term is thrown out during the film. Interview has a bad case of this with a few other jokes, but sometimes they're twisted in such a way that they're funny again. It's just an unfortunate case of becoming desensitized to the material after a while. And without giving too much away, Interview pulls the same trick seen in This is the End (with a small bit of dialogue heavily foreshadowing the film's events) and it's just not as great the second time around.  But when Interview works, it works splendidly. The cast is so well placed. Franco nearly steals the show as his performance is seemingly effortless (as he combines an intelligent naivete with a suave and narcissistic demeanor), but the casual racism given to his character is quite troublesome. Rogen is the literal butt of most of the crude humor, but he takes it like a champ, Lizzy Caplan gets very little to do and that's a shame, but Randall Park as Kim Jong-un is the real take away. His Kim Jong-un is at times humanized, but never quite able to shed the terrible image of the real thing. There are several nuances in his performances that could be easily ignored if you aren't paying attention. From the way he animates his face, to the way he can stare off blankly to the side and still command attention. Park definitely needs to be in more things.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the elephant in the room. The Interview has a weird portrayal of North Korea. Sort of non-committal, sort of racist and nowhere near as "America, f**k yeah!" as recent events would have you believe. There's always someone saying North Korea is a bad place, but there's never an offer for a better alternative. Both the USA and North Korea are treated as interfering and destructive entities as Dave and Aaron are just roped into this American plan despite their wishes, the United States is shown to have highly advanced military technology at their disposal, and North Korea becomes a cartoonish hellhole of a country. Yet despite all of this, the film just sort of ends. Sure I didn't expect an intense political discussion, and The Interview does get credit for bringing attention to North Korea's issues to people who wouldn't know about them, but it's weird to be wandering around in this grey area. But at the end of the day, The Interview is still a damn fine piece of entertainment. A concise, intelligent film that marks the maturing of the stereotypical "stoner comedy" framework (taking a crazy premise and sticking two random guys into it) as the actors themselves grow older and more confident in other styles of work and experiment with interesting ideas and perspectives. It's stylishly shot (with some wonderful red "communist" hues and backgrounds), and the soundtrack gives empty scenes poignancy. I mean, I had fun...unless I was honeypotted. Whatever, they hate us cause they ain't us. 
The Interview Review photo
Land of the free, home of the butthole
After a crazy couple of weeks of Sony hacks, full on terrorist attack threats, cancellations, and a last minute reneging, I sort of forgot that at the center of all this mess was a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco....

The Interview getting limited theatrical release, possibly VOD

Dec 23 // Nick Valdez
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES LIMITED THEATRICAL RELEASE OF THE INTERVIEW ON CHRISTMAS DAY [Hollywood - December 23, 2014]  Sony Pictures Entertainment today announced that The Interview will have a limited theatrical release in the United States on Christmas Day. “We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.” “I want to thank our talent on The Interview and our employees, who have worked tirelessly through the many challenges we have all faced over the last month.  While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.”  
The Interview Release photo
It's a Christmas miracle!
After all of the hubub and hooey giving attention to a film that's probably super funny, but forgettable, Sony is allowing a limited theatrical run of The Interview on its intended Christmas Day release (for those theaters th...

Why did it have to be The Interview?

Dec 17 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
By now, you've likely heard that Sony has officially canceled the Christmas Day release of The Interview. That event took place after I wrote the rest of this article, which sort of threw a wrench into things, but it doesn't change the point of the article, so it's still being published. This all came in response to the Guardians of Peace, who perpetrated the hack against Sony, threatening some sort of horrific violence (invoking 9/11 in the process) against any theater that shows The Interview. Was it a credible threat? No, probably not. I don't think there's any way North Korea (assuming Guardians of Peace is related to that regime) could pull off something like that, and people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do agree. But, and this is the big but, what if it is credible? Because the reality is that the group doesn't have to bomb every theater showing the film to make their point. They only have to bomb one of them. And while I never believed anything would happen, I also wasn't going to take my chances at a movie theater on opening day. But I kind of wanted to. I didn't want to before this whole thing happened, because The Interview was never something I intended to see in a theater, but now that all of this has happened, I feel compelled to stand up for it. Because what has happened to The Interview sets a terrible precedent on so many levels. (And now that the Christmas release has been canceled, it's even worse; although the eventual release may be stronger for it... we'll see.) If you have been following the stories that have come out of the Sony hacks (which Flixist has taken an official stand against covering), you know by now that it hasn't been a great year for the project. And while I stand by the decision to not cover the attack on this site, I also think that what those The Interview-related emails in particular tell us about the way the film industry works behind the scenes is fascinating and worth understanding. Of particular note was the revelation that Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai stepped in to meddle with the project directly, something that hasn't happened in 25 years. The point of contention was the actual death of Kim Jong-un (which the entire movie builds towards). While it has not technically been censored in America (though it will be internationally), it has been absolutely and unquestionably toned down.  A clip has circulated online featuring a later version, which features a far less explicit version than those on the creative team had intended. In fact, the version as presented there (and thus as will play onscreen) is kind of... nothing. Really. Even without the leaks, it would be pretty obvious that things had scaled back, because it just looks weird. And it looks weird because Sony is scared. And Sony has every right to do what it wants with its own properties... but at the same time I can't pretend like I'm not bothered by the whole ordeal. (On a vaguely related note: the fact that US state officials have backed the project and believe it could potentially be useful propaganda is kind of incredible.) I may not always put much stock in other critics' opinions, but the 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and the 54 on Metacritic thus far aren't exactly inspiring numbers. (By contrast, This is the End received 83% and 67.) They imply, at the very least, that this may not really be a film worth fighting for. Why couldn't it have been Team America: World Police (77% and 64) that set off North Korea? Why did it have to be a film that is probably mediocre?  Imagine if Hotel Rwanda had caused this kind of thing to happen, if Rwanda declared the film an act of war, or if The Act of Killing was seen by the Indonesian government as worthy of a terrorist response. Those are films that people would get behind and fight for, because those are films that show something significant. They're films that could make a difference. The Interview was never going to make a difference, in part because it's fictional, but also because it's a Seth Rogen movie. Seth Rogen's movies are generally enjoyable, but they don't go beyond just being fun to watch. There's nothing wrong with that, but in the face of a horrible terrorist threat, "It might be kind of funny" is hardly something worth dying for. I don't believe anyone will die for The Interview, but in the face of threats of horrific violence, you need to weigh the thing you're fighting for against the potential dangers. By choosing a film that very few people legitimately care about, the power dynamic has shifted. Many people would normally stand up for art's right to exist, but voices are silent, because it's The Interview and not The Act of Killing. It all seems so pointless. I don't believe that Sony should bow to these terrorists, but I also can't blame theaters for removing it from their lineup. The whole situation is so completely fucked, but the fact that it's a Seth Rogen film at the center seems like some cruel joke. The kind of joke that Seth Rogen would turn into a movie.
Why The Interview? photo
Couldn't the terrorists have chosen a more meaningful film?
The Interview is the most important film of 2014.  Does that sentence depress anyone else? It really should, because it's undoubtedly true. The film that will have the greatest impact on the world at large is not Boyhood...

The Interview photo
The Interview

Final Trailer for Rogen and Goldberg's The Interview


Nov 26
// Nick Valdez
I've been worried how Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were possibly going to follow up This is the End, hands down one of the best films of 2013, after their recently produced effort Neighbors showed quite a few cracks in their...
The Interview Trailer photo
The Interview Trailer

First Red Band trailer for The Interview has some jokes


Sep 22
// Nick Valdez
After watching this latest Red Band trailer for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's latest film, The Interview, I think I'm okay with its push from October to December. There are some good jokes here as the trailer reveals more o...
The Interview photo
The Interview

Watch this 20 minute MTV special for The Interview


Aug 19
// Nick Valdez
Just as how MTV once had a cool promotion for This is the End last year, this year they're working with Sony to promote Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's The Interview. I'm pretty excited for it, North Korea seems less excited,...
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Sony is digitally altering The Interview


Communism wins
Aug 14
// Matthew Razak
You know who hates democracy and freedom? Sony. They've kowtowed to pressure from North Korea about some crazy issues it has with the comedy, which is about two interviewers who get to sit down with Kim Jong Un. What's the ch...
The Interview photo
The Interview

Rogen's The Interview gets new release date, possibly because of communism


Aug 08
// Nick Valdez
I'm really, reeeeeeeeeeeeally looking forward to The Interview. It's Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's follow up to This is the End, one of my favorite films of 2013, stars Rogen and James Franco doing what they do best, and it'...
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Teaser trailer for The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco


Oh man.
Jun 12
// Isabelle Magliari
James Franco and Seth Rogen are the peanut butter and jelly of the film world; they just work so well together. And their dynamic duo-ness holds up strong in the first teaser for their upcoming and undoubtably hilarious come...

Review: Neighbors

May 09 // Nick Valdez
[embed]217423:41316:0[/embed] NeighborsDirector: Nicholas StollerRated: RRelease Date: May 9, 2014  Neighbors is all about Mac (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) as they put all of their savings on a new home. When they're getting comfortable, Teddy (Zac Efron), the president of Delta Psi, moves his rowdy fraternity into the house next door. After Mac calls the cops, Teddy and fraternity fight back, leading to an escalating back and forth prank war.  With a simple premise like this, the film is completely reliant on the strength of its cast to succeed. The raunchier and cartoonish the pranks and arguments get, the easier for them to devolve into some sort of mushy mess. Thankfully, the problems with the film aren't with the cast. Seth Rogen is essentially every role Rogen's played (so whether or not you've enjoyed him in the past will definitely anchor your enjoyment) with lots of added nudity, and Rose Byrne is as adorable as she always is, but given a layer of sex appeal. Everyone beyond Zac Efron is just playing the same characters they always have before. It's essentially a negative given we've seen that formula used before, but it's hard to argue against something that works.  The one surprising actor in all of this is Zac Efron. While he's not exactly given a varied range, he pulls of the fraternity jerk very well. And when the film decides to add layers to characters about midway through the feature, he surprisingly pulls through. Of course there are the standard shirtless scenes, but he's got some comedic chops that I hope get explored in the future. Only trouble is that while he's got those chops, they're still a bit rough. Some of his jokes fall flat, and are notably covered up by his shirtlessness. Given a tighter screenplay, Efron could finally show us what he's capable of.  That seems to be the main issue in Neighbors. It's incredibly raunchy (complete with dildo fights and gross sequences), but a lot of it fails to be funny. It tows the line between gross-funny and gross-gross. But that all depends on your personal taste I suppose. I'll admit, however, one of the jokes is so incredibly disgusting it's hilarious. It was an odd situation to be in. Besides the raunch, Neighbors has an issue with length. There's one notable sequence during the prank war which the film will be much better without. It derails the direction and pace, and loses its fun as it drags beyond the borders of its humor.  It's not a perfect comedy by any means, but it's still entertaining. Best way to see Neighbors is in a crowd, perhaps a college party as the film so heartily recommends. It looks good (those party scenes are fantastically shot), it's got plenty of eye candy (Efron's shirtless at least two thirds of the film), and you may even get a laugh or two. Neighbors isn't going to redefine how you see comedy, but it does its job.  And most of the time, that's all you need. A comedy that does its job then goes back home to party. 
Neighbors Review photo
As smart as a bag of dildos
I had completely written off Neighbors. Coming off of Seth Rogen's last starring role in This is the End, the first trailer for Neighbors underwhelmed me. I've gotten used to Rogen acting, writing, and directing his own films...

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New 'Neighbors' red band trailers are hilariously raunchy


starring the lovable Seth Rogen and the effervescent Zac Efron
Apr 09
// Isabelle Magliari
It is an interesting transformation to see Seth Rogen go from playing schluby, sweet, stoney screw-ups to a new father who is worried about neighborhood parties waking his baby. But Rogen plays a good dorky dad, and ...
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Rogen and Gordon-Levitt coming back together for Xmas


Hopefully less cancer this time around
Feb 11
// Matthew Razak
The heavily under appreciated 50/50 was probably one of Seth Rogen's best performances and really landed Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an entirely awesome human being in every way for me. It's exciting to hear that they'll be ...
Bound 3 photo
Bound 3

Rogen and Franco recreated Kanye West's "Bound 2"


Nov 25
// Nick Valdez
On the set of Seth Rogen's directorial follow up to This is the End, The Interview (featuring Rogen and James Franco as a TV personality and producer who are roped into helping assassinate the prime minister of North Korea), James Franco and Seth Rogen did a shot for shot remake of Kanye West's weird music video for "Bound 2." Ye...yeah it's pretty sexy.  [via Twitter]
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Seth Rogen's R-rated animated film is now being mad


Sep 24
// Matthew Razak
Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Evan Goldberg have evidently been bandying about the idea of an R-rated animated film for some time now, and now that they have all the monies from things like This is the End they can make it...
This is the End photo
This is the End

This is the End getting re-released in theaters soon


The end is back, alright! (Sooner than you think!)
Sep 02
// Nick Valdez
This is the End was the best film of the Summer hands down (Fast & Furious 6 notwithstanding). It brought the biggest surprises, biggest laughs, and most memorable moments (that finale had to be the greatest thing I've se...
This is the End photo
This is the End

Flix for Short: The Real World: This is the End Edition


"I should've been more polite and stopped being so f**king real."
Jun 13
// Nick Valdez
This is the End is one of the funniest films of the year so far if you're a fan of Seth Rogen and his gang. Even if you're not, you're still going to find yourselves laughing. A good gauge of how funny This is the End is goi...

Review: This is the End

Jun 12 // Nick Valdez
[embed]215805:40193:0[/embed] This is the EndDirectors: Evan Goldberg and Seth RogenRating: RRelease Date: June 12, 2013 Adapted from the short film, Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, This is the End is all about Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel) and Seth Rogen's (Seth Rogen) friendship. Jay is visiting L.A. and staying over at Seth's house. Although Seth wants to go a to a big party at James Franco's (James Franco) house, Jay is timid and has generally grown tired of Seth's new friends and lifestyle. While partying with the likes of Craig Robinson (Craig Robinson), Jonah Hill (Jonah Hill) and Danny McBride (Danny McBride), the entire world goes to hell as the apocalypse begins. Then Jay and Seth (as well as some famous friends) have to fight to stay alive.  Now let me say this before continuing the review. This is the End is most definitely a self-depreciative comedy with an emphasis on "self." If you have never seen a Seth Rogen comedy at this point but have some semblance as to who these comedians are, you may still find yourself confused. Much of the film's humor (and especially one loving, yet alienating tribute to one of Rogen and Franco's more notable films) comes from prior knowledge of Rogen's career and the image these comedians have concocted for themselves in Hollywood. While it's entertaining, it can create a bubble around the film which prevents most of the general audience from completely investing in it. They'll still laugh at the jokes and well used cameos, but they'll completely miss the deeper thematic resonance.  Much of This is the End is set up like a standard "bottle episode" of any given sitcom. You have a group of people trapped in one place for numerous reasons, and the dramatic beats of the narrative stem from how these few folks learn to adapt to their new situation while dealing with their friends/enemies/frenemies in close quarters. In that respect, This is the End is a surprisingly compact film given its premise. Much of the action takes place in one area, and for most of the film, the outside is painted in a foggy, yellow color. It works well enough to give the setting a sense of dread while not really having to do much. In fact, when you think of the framing of the film as a sort of postmodern stage play (where characters came leave and exit the stage) it's borderline genius.  But is it funny? Yes, yes it is. As stated above, if you're familiar with these comedians and their films, you'll never stop laughing at This is the End. But unfortunately, it's going to take a bit to get there. This is the End is truly strong as soon as the apocalypse kicks in. The scenes of Franco's party are clunky, full of cameos that tend to misfire, and when folks begin to kick the bucket, it's some of the worst shot scenes of the film. Thankfully, once the cast is boiled down, the humor and suspense kicks in at full force. Much of the exchanged dialogue comes off as wonderfully natural as each comedian is allowed to play an exaggerated version of their Hollywood persona (although I'd like to believe Craig Robinson is really that suave in real life). And because of the nicely put together script (with much of it I'll assume is adlibbed due to the quickfire nature of the jokes), each actor in this case is at the top of their game, with Danny McBride being the standout.  With a film so focused on comedy, I couldn't blame you for expecting every other aspect of the film to fall apart. Luckily, that doesn't happen here. There is a plot to the film, rather than just a thin premise in which to tie endless jokes to one another, and that plot is handled well. Since it focuses on a small setting (and even smaller core theme of Jay and Seth's friendship) it never feels like it's trying too hard to be funny or heartwarming. It just works out. The smaller dialogue exchanges escalate naturally and bring out the best in the cast. There are a few moments during the film also that perfectly marry heart and action while somehow getting a laugh or two. I know I'm speaking in generalities, but if I give an example of any of the moments, it'll completely wreck the foundation of the film. But that's odd too. At least the action is filmed well beyond the initial "giant hole opens up and swallows all the famous people" scene.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I loved the final 15-20 minutes of the film. By that point, I had been won over by the characters, and gotten used to the brashness (and crudeness) of the jokes despite looking at a giant phallic image, as the most deliciously goofy sequence takes place. It's certainly a dramatic moment, but it's mixed with humor (and some of the greatest song choices) in such a way that tells the audience to stop being so serious. As soon as it was over, I had a huge smile on my face.  Of course not everyone will react to This is the End in the same way. It's a niche film (for fans of raunchy Rogen comedies who understand the meta-narrative) that does sometimes drag as it gets to the next scene, and at other times the humor does feel forced from one of the individuals. And while I hope it has the tenacity to withstand multiple viewings, the film's jokes may very well verge on "one and done" in most cases. Whatever the case turns out to be, the dialogue exchanges between these guys is well worth the price of admission (especially if you're a fan of Pineapple Express).  This is the End is the Rogen comedy to end all Rogen comedies. 
This is the End Review photo
It's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine.
I've been harsh toward This is the End from the very beginning. First batch of trailers painted the film as a "Hey look at [enter famous name here] acting wacky!" sort of comedy, but as the trailers rolled on and hinted at th...

This is the End Trailer photo
This is the End Trailer

Trailer: This is the End


"Take it easy, Dumbledore."
May 31
// Nick Valdez
Opening in just a little under two weeks, we have one more trailer for This is the End. This is the international version of the trailer so there's mostly repeat footage, but the new material? The new material is just fantas...
This is the End photo
This is the End

New This is the End posters take yo panties off


"Take em off take em off take em off take em ooooofff!"
May 30
// Nick Valdez
I'm still holding firm in my belief that This is The End, the post-apocalyptic Rapture comedy starring famous funny guys like Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel as themselves, is going to go either one of two ways. It's either going...
Michael Cera dies in this photo
Michael Cera dies in this

Trailer: This is the End (Red Band)


Emma Watson has an axe. You want to see this now, don't you?
Apr 03
// Nick Valdez
This new Red Band trailer for This is the End has enough new content and hints of plot (it seems to be a biblical apocalypse) to help you figure out what kind of movie it's going to be. It's filled to the brim with comedians...
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This is the End is somewhat more nigh


Mar 29
// Matthew Razak
This is the End might be one of the more anticipated comedies of the year. We'll all be anticipating two days less now as the film has been bumped up to a June 12 release instead of a June 14 release. Those two days shou...
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Trailer: This is the End (Red Band)


Repent!
Dec 20
// Thor Latham
Well, for a movie I didn't even know existed, this trailer for This is the End tickled my funny bone just enough to make me want more. Based on the short film Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, This is the End t...

Review: The Guilt Trip

Dec 19 // Matthew Razak
[embed]214136:39339[/embed] The Guilt TripDirector: Anne Fletcher Rating: PG-13Release Date: December 19, 2012  One would be wrong. If anything The Guilt Trip, a film that combines Jewish mother comedy and road trip comedy, is only comic "thanks for participating." A movie that's only true achievement is that it remains palatable instead of veering off into comic "KILL IT BEFORE IT DESTROYS ALL OF FUNNY THINGS!" Thankfully things don't get that bad, and the movie actually makes some smart decisions here and there. Never enough to pull itself up to the level of anything special, but enough to keep you from hating it outright. The aforementioned Jewish mother is Joyce Brewster (Barbara Streisand). Her forever tormented son, Andrew (Seth Rogen) comes to visit right before he's about to embark on a road trip across the country to sell a cleaning product he's invented. While at home he finds out that his mother named him after a man she fell in love with before she met his father, he looks her up and decides that in order to have her fall in love again he'll invite her on the road trip despite the fact that he seemingly can't stand her. There's a lot of poorly done character motivation throughout the film, but the upshot of the whole thing is that a grown man is stuck in a car for an extended period of time with his Jewish mother.  Of course the casting of Barbara Streisand as the stereotypical Jewish mother couldn't be any more perfect, but for the first quarter of the movie it's pretty worrying. Streisand plays the role to the hilt and by the time the plot gets going you're definitely tired of the stereotype about five times over. Surprisingly the film is actually smart enough to veer away from the stereotype as the film progresses unfolding Joyce into a more complex character and ditching many of the really annoying bits. It completely saves the film from being quite possibly the most annoying movie of the year. Instead it can roll along in its mediocrity. Props should not really be given for a movie being able to not suck. While that may seem impressive since many movies do suck, sucking really shouldn't be the bar that a film is trying to climb over so despite my previous statements I want to stress that this is still a bland film. Laughs are trumped up throughout, but they're never really funny, and the story behind the comedy is seriously flawed. Whenever the film isn't being funny (aside from one admittedly impressive scene) it doesn't work or is too cliche to enjoy. In a strange twist the emotional scenes that keep Streisand's character from ruining film are also the scenes that work the least. There's just not much going on beyond the mother/son relationship to keep the film going. Rogen and Streisand are hit and miss together as well. Their car banter, which sounds like a lot of it was improv, is quite funny. In fact once Streisand gets in the car and stops acting like a Jewish mother and instead is a Jewish mother her dialog hits some great points and Rogen stays right in step with her. However, the comedy outside of this is at it's best only smirk worthy and and its worst eye-rollingly bad. Rogen and Streisand also seem on different pages for a lot of the dramatic scenes, especially the aforementioned impressive scene, which stumbles not from their individual performances, but because they seem like they weren't even on set with each other at times. The story, which eventually ends in a mother/son love-fest and redemption for both, is downright odd at times and often races over issues in order to get to more car comedy. If it had paced itself a bit better there could have been some actual drama to the film, but instead the road trip mentality takes over and we're rushed from one set piece to another. There's really nothing compelling keeping the story together as a whole, and even Andrew's victory at the end feels like something anyone would have done somewhere near the beginning. It's one of those stories that would only happen in the movies, but in this case it involves a Jewish mother instead of an international action hero. The good news is that The Guilt Trip is far more than it really deserves to be. The bad news is that far more is still a pretty crummy movie. At least it has the decency to end itself in a timely manner unlike another comedy opening this week.
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Not even a guilty pleasure
The stereotype of the Jewish mother is probably one of the few stereotypes you can still throw out there without a single person shouting foul. This is because, unlike other stereotypes where exceptions can be found easily le...


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