Christmas films are a notoriously tough art form to nail. For every Bad Santa, there’s a Fred Claus. For every Die Hard, there’s a Four Christmases. For every Jingle All The Way, there’s a Grinch waiting to come and kick over your tree and stamp on your baubles.
It’s a relief, then, that the new Seth Rogen film, The Night Before, actually looks quite good. Following three old friends (Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie) re-uniting to cause havoc on Christmas Eve, we’re not exactly getting ‘classic’ vibes, but in a season of below-par releases, this should be good for a few laughs at least, especially as the inclusion of former FHM cover star Seth Rogen always implies a certain level of quality has been met.
This got us thinking about the big man’s career to date as he’s guffawed his way through the comedy mainstream since popping up in The 40-Year-Old Virgin way back in 2005. With that in mind, here’s his most memorable films, ranked from worst to best...
12 Observe and Report (2009)
Coming in the midst of Rogen’s post-Pineapple Express career high, Observe and Report divided audiences by moving away from the usual formula and featuring Rogen as a potentially mentally ill mall security guard. The jokes are a little bit harder to swallow than films like Superbad, and for once Rogen’s character isn’t the entirely likeable everyman we’re rooting for.
11 The Green Hornet (2011)
A film that was supposed to move Rogen into more mainstream territory following his comedy breakouts, The Green Hornet saw him dip his toes into the superhero genre. Sadly, the results were less then spectacular.
10 Funny People (2009)
Judd Apatow’s film about comedians trying to find their voice again featured a self-aware Adam Sandler, with Rogen popping up in a secondary role. Ironically, the film just wasn’t that funny and – like most Apatow films – it was criticised for being overly long.
09 This Is The End (2013)
Released the same year as Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, this Los Angeles-set disaster movie cast a light on the gulf between British and American humour. While Wright’s effort was one of the best films of the year, the Rogen-directed film fell short by some distance, featuring rape jokes, the devil’s penis and a plot devoid of any real narrative.
08 Zack and Miri Make A Porno (2008)
Slated on its release, this Kevin Smith-directed film about friends making blue movies to pay the bills is actually an overlooked gem in Rogen’s repertoire. He’s on point as the vulnerable everyman while Elizabeth Banks helps provide heart to what could otherwise have been an empty shell and not much else.
07 The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
For cultural impact alone this film deserves a spot towards the top of this list. While not as subtle as later Apatow films, it introduced us to Rogen in a supporting role and made audiences hungry for more. It also helped elevate Steve Carrell’s career, although the film does have good points too.
06 The Interview (2014)
You’ve heard of this one and it’s subsequent ban from movie theatres. Was it worth the wait when it eventually became available online? Not quite, but at the end of the day it was an enjoyable if throwaway comedy. The Eminem interview scene is a highlight.
05 50/50 (2011)
Look, we didn’t cry during this film, okay? Alright, we might have had something in our eye towards the end, but if you don’t get emotional watching a film about two best friends fighting cancer, you’re dead inside. More Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s show than Rogen’s, but our man Seth is reliable as ever as the supportive friend.
04 Superbad (2007)
Like all classics, Superbad has been quoted to death. For that reason alone it’s not higher up the list. However, think about seeing it for the very first time and you’ll remember that it was like nothing in cinemas before (or since). Co-written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film launched the careers of Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Emma Stone and Dave Franco. Not too shabby.
03 Bad Neighbours (2014)
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are happily married with a young baby when Zac Efron moves in next door and opens up a frat house. A simple idea carried off perfectly. While it could have been another Project X-style party film, the script, plus a brilliantly self-aware performance from Efron and a ‘fuck you I’m a woman and I can be irresponsible, too’ performance from Rose Byrne make it one of the best comedies of recent years. Let’s hope 2016’s sequel continues the legacy.
02 Knocked Up (2007)
Paul Rudd. The Vegas drugs scene. The Loudon Wainwright III soundtrack. Leslie Mann’s “doorman” rant. Of all the Judd Apatow films, this is the best. Yes, there’s no way Rogen could pull Katherine Heigl, but just go with it. A perfect mix of comedy and heart, this has you in turn hating and loving every character. Katherine Heigl may hate it, but it’s by far the best thing she’s ever been involved with. Take that, 27 Dresses.
01 Pineapple Express (2008)
A stoner crime comedy with a philosophical heart, Pineapple Express turned the action genre on its head by depicting two wasters accidentally surviving entanglement in a mafia turf war. Notable for a brief role for Amber Heard, the film’s real treasure is Danny McBride as the shady-but-ultimately-lovely drug dealer Red. Oh yeah, and did we mention James Franco gives a career-best performance? Light one up.