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Undeclared

Undeclared is a Fox sitcom that served as the follow-up to Judd Apatow’s earlier cult hit series, Freaks and Geeks. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Apatow is the genius that has written, directed, or produced some of the best comedies Hollywood has to offer. He brought us The Cable Guy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Knocked Up, Superbad, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, Bridesmaids… the list goes on and on. Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared were some of his earliest projects and they laid a solid foundation for his career.

Undeclared is a half-hour sitcom about freshman Steven Karp’s (Jay Baruchel) first year at college. Seth Rogen, Charlie Hunnam, and Timm Sharp play his roommates. Carla Gallo, Monica Keena, and Tina Ellroy play the girls living in the dorm across the hall. The two groups band together and deal with all your typical college shenanigans like sex, dating, drinking, parents, partying, playing Truth or Dare, prank wars with fraternities and disgruntled R.A.s, and gaining the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. The comedic style is mostly loose and improvised, relying more on character wit than sight gags. There is no laugh track or studio audience. It’s not the game changer that Freaks and Geeks was, but it’s a funnier and sharper show.

It’s impossible to watch this show and not be reminded of Freaks and Geeks. Seth Rogen has a starring role in both shows, Jason Segel guest stars in a few episodes, and Busy Phillips, Martin Starr, Samm Levine and other Freaks and Geeks alumni pop up occasionally. There are tons of other cameos and guest spots from actors and comedians that you know and love. I won’t mention them in hopes that you watch the show and get pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, Undeclared has another similarity with Freaks and Geeks. Both shows were cancelled before completing the first season. It’s sad because the series had so much potential and it ends way too quickly. There are only seventeen episodes, and each one is so funny and entertaining that you can’t help but binge-watch. Before you know it, you have no more episodes to watch and you’re let with a void in your heart and Netflix queue.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Interview

The Interview is a 2014 comedy about two American journalists being tasked with assassinating Kim Jong-un. It would have been a typical stoner flick but North Korea heard about it, got all butt hurt, and hacked Sony in retaliation. They prevented the film from getting a wide release in theaters, but they failed spectacularly because of all the free publicity they generated for the film. It was quite a successful marketing ploy; it guaranteed that this movie will forever be remembered for all the hoopla it caused.

The film was written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Dan Sterling. It was directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It stars Seth Rogen and James Franco. Seth Rogen is pretty talented in case you haven’t figured it out yet. Rogen plays Aaron Rapoport, the producer of an entertainment news show called Skylark Tonight. Franco plays Dave Skylark, the pompous host of Skylark Tonight. Randall Park plays Kim Jong-un, the crazy dictator of North Korea and a huge fan of Skylark Tonight. He’s such a fan that he wants to be on the show and arranges for Aaron and Dave to come out to North Korea to interview him. The CIA hears about the interview and they enlist Aaron and Dave to assassinate him.

It’s a political comedy filled with bathroom humor. One second you’re laughing at propaganda, the next second you’re laughing at fart jokes. It’s reminiscent of Team America: World Police but the humor is a little more down to earth. Team America’s cruel dictator was an obvious stereotype. He was shorter than all the other puppets, he had a ridiculous accent, and was clearly the embodiment of evil. The Interview’s dictator was more realistic. Randall Park plays him as shy and insecure. He want’s Dave Skylark’s approval because he looks up to him. He has daddy issues and all he wants is to be respected. That’s why it’s a bit more startling when his crazy side comes out.

It’s not a great movie. This Is the End and Pineapple Express are both better than The Interview, but The Interview feels more like a complete film. Rogen is starting to mature and a writer, director, and actor and his films are starting to tackle more social and political issues. They still retain humor and heart, but he’s becoming more worldly and it shows. The film was just released on Netflix; I suggest that you watch it. It won’t change your life, but it will make you laugh and that’s what every comedy should do.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express is a stoner action film staring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride. David Gordon Green directs and Judd Apatow produces. It’s about a stoner who witnesses a murder and gets wrapped up in the middle of a drug war. I hate when that happens.

Seth Rogen is Dale Denton, a 25-year-old process server who dreams of being on the radio someday. He smokes weed and buys from a smalltime dealer named Saul (James Franco). Saul sells Dale some rare weed called Pineapple Express, and Dale goes back to work. He’s waiting to serve a guy named Ted Jones (Gary Cole) ,and he witnesses Ted and a cop (Rosie Perez) kill an Asian guy. Dale freaks out, tosses his roach and goes to Saul for help.

Saul buys his weed from a guy named Red (Danny McBride), and Red buys from Ted. Pineapple Express is really rare and Ted is the supplier, so he is able to trace it back to Saul and Dale.

They go on the run. They spend the night in the woods and have a little bonding time. The next day they go to visit Red and find out if he’s told Ted anything. And he did, because he was threatened by two henchmen (Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson). Dale and Saul get in a clumsy stoner fight with Red, and they escape before Ted’s henchmen come back.

They go to warn Dale’s high school girlfriend (Amber Heard) and her family that they might be in danger. And even though her dad tries to kill Dale and Saul, he’s able to convince them to hide out a hotel.

Dale and Saul have a fight, and Dale says that they were never friends. Saul gets caught by Ted’s men and Dale decides he has to save him. He gets Red to help, but Red bails at the last minute and Dale confronts Ted’s gang alone. He gets captured pretty quickly and is reunited with Saul in a cell.

They chose a pretty good night to get captured, because Ted’s rivals, the Asians, stage a raid of Ted’s base. Saul and Dale manage to escape and they are killing their way out, while the Asians are killing their way in, and Ted’s guys are killing everyone. Even Red comes back to kill some people.

Dale, Saul, and Red all manage to survive. And they celebrate by getting breakfast and deciding to be best friends.

If you are a fan of quality entertainment, you might recall a show called Freaks and Geeks. Judd Apatow developed that show and Seth Rogen and James Franco starred in it. It’s good to see them working together again. Even Kevin Corrigan guest starred in an episode.

This movie has a few cool action scenes, but it never forgets that it’s a comedy. So the fights have gags in them. Saul and Dale don’t know how to fight and it shows. The car chase scene was completely absurd and it was really fun to watch,

As with a lot of Apatow movies, the dialog seems to flow. Everything seems improvised. James Franco and Seth Rogen are perfect for this movie, but Danny McBride steals the movie as Red. He has so many great lines. And he can’t die.

Pineapple Express is a solid comedy. People will still be quoting it in twenty years. It doesn’t take itself too seriously… that whole subplot with the Asians feels pretty tacked on and I’m sure that it’s intentional. All things considered, it’s a fun film and comedies should be fun.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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