Seth Rogen‘s new movie An American Pickle hits HBO Max today (August 6th), and the actor’s latest comedy finds him playing dual roles as Ben Greenbaum and his well-preserved grandfather, Herschel. I’ve yet to see the film myself, but Rogen is drawing strong reviews for his double turn, proving you can never really have too much Seth Rogen.
The prolific Canadian broke out as a cast member on the beloved but short-lived series Freaks & Geeks before going on to work as a writer on Judd Apatow‘s follow-up show Undeclared. He also had small parts in the Apatow-produced comedy Anchorman and Richard Kelly‘s cult classic Donnie Darko. Apatow later cast Rogen in a funny supporting role in The 40-Year Old Virgin before bumping him up to the lead of Knocked Up. Like Steve Carell before him, Rogen’s face — ill-prepared for fatherhood — was suddenly everywhere, and his career took off from there.
Superbad, based on a script he co-wrote as a teenager with Evan Goldberg, was a huge hit that led to Pineapple Express and a starring role opposite his comedy idol Adam Sandler in Apatow’s Funny People. The studio films Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Observe and Report failed to make a dent in the box office, but that Rogen didn’t let that discourage him from taking big swings. 2011’s The Green Hornet may not have fared much better with audiences, but that same year was an important turning point of sorts for Rogen, as it also saw the release of his first dramatic turn in Take This Waltz, as well as the cancer dramedy 50/50, which was the first film produced by his company Point Grey.
After working with directors like David Gordon Green, Michel Gondry, Jonathan Levine and Apatow, Rogen felt comfortable directing with Goldberg by his side, and the two stepped behind the camera for 2013’s apocalyptic meta-comedy This Is the End and The Interview, the latter of which was closely associated with the infamous Sony hack, resulting in a VOD release. Still, those two films marked marked the start of a hot streak that included Neighbors (2014), The Night Before (2015), Sausage Party (2016) and The Disaster Artist (2017) and 2018’s Blockers, though he didn’t appear in that raucous teen comedy.
Clearly, there was no shortage of movies to work with in creating this list, so it’s time to explain what didn’t make the cut and why. While I’m a fan of Funny People, The Night Before and The Interview, all of which feature Rogen as the second lead, none of those films really stood out enough to make the cut for this list. The performance that pops in The Interview is Randall Park‘s take on Kim Jong-Un, followed by James Franco‘s toothy TV host Dave Skylark. Dave’s producer is ultimately secondary to the story. The same goes for Funny People, a movie I remember more for Adam Sandler and the love triangle he finds himself in with Leslie Mann and Eric Bana than his mentorship of Rogen’s Ira Wright.
That’s not to say a film’s focus had to be on Rogen in order to qualify for this list. Take This Waltz is not a movie about Rogen’s character, but it made the cut because it held a unique place among his filmography. The Night Before is an underrated holiday movie, but Rogen is high on drugs for most of it, and there’s simply a limit on how funny it is to watch someone pretend to be stoned.
I gave serious consideration to Rogen’s supporting roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and 50/50, but those films belong to Steve Carell and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, respectively. Rogen is really good in both films, but he also doesn’t stand out to the extent that they’re among the top 10 movies Rogen should be remembered for. I mean, Donnie Darko is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Rogen has a small role in that, but it didn’t make the cut because it’s not a Seth Rogen movie by any serious definition. The same goes for Anchorman, a very funny movie, but a Will Ferrell vehicle all the same. In fact, as you’ll read below, the same criteria nearly kept Superbad off this list, though ultimately, it seemed unconscionable to leave it off.
We’ve watched Rogen mature over the years, from the deep-voiced, vaguely intimidating guy on Freaks and Geeks to a powerhouse producer, whose company Point Grey has been kicking ass lately. We like Rogen because we can relate to him. He’s the funny stoner next door, your chubby friend with glasses and a beard. He’s the movie star you just want to kick it with. Rogen has turned stoner humor into an art form, and yet he obviously has much more on his mind, creatively speaking.
He’s one of the few actors lucky enough to tell stories in a variety of different mediums under several different guises, be it as a producer, a writer or a (co-)director. Rogen doesn’t have an acting gigs lined up at the moment, but he’s an executive producer on the hit series The Boys, which returns to Amazon on Sept. 4. Without further ado, take a look at our list of the top 10 Rogen movies below, and make sure to leave a comment with your own rankings. Once you’ve done that, be sure and click here for Collider’s review of An American Pickle.