Dear Fat Seth Rogen, I miss you.
Your slimmer, clean-shaven doppelganger just isn’t the same. Sure, he’s still got the John Goodmanlike growl as the version of you who cracked me up in Superbad, Pineapple Express and Knocked Up, but he’s just not as endearing. He just doesn’t feel right, like a pair of new jeans that are starched so stiff it makes it tough to walk. You may be fresher and better, Skinny Seth Rogen, but you got no game.
I realized you had to banish your former self in order to play a realistic superhero, no doubt enduring a tough fitness and diet regimen that will add years to your life and improve the way you feel. But gosh damn it, Seth, it’s not about you, but me.
I used to laugh with you because you weren’t a movie star, you were just a guy. You may as well been the dude behind me in line at Subway or the kid behind the counter at Game Stop who tries to convince me to pre-order the next Call of Duty. You were mediocre, and all-too-easy to identify with. You were the fella who caught people off-guard, making them underestimate you with your studiously dopey ways before sucker-punching them with perfectly-delivered one-liners that you yourself wrote.
This Skinny Seth is more Shia LaBeouf than Game Stop kid. He plays a millionaire playboy who decides to become a vigilante when his disapproving dad dies and leaves him his media empire. Skinny Seth teams up with Kato (played by Jay Chou) and pines for his secretary (Cameron Diaz), dispatching masked enemies of the night with the efficiency of a Final Fight character.
Previous movies you wrote with school-buddy Evan Goldberg felt like drunken ramblings concocted at an after-after party during college, but your stuff in this superhero film du jour feels like it fell out of a workshop full of suits. Sure, you’ve got a few zingers that made me grin, but you also muddy things up with dopey expository soliloquies and copious car chases and retread-like action sequences. And the plot twist, that involves the conceit that a single newspaper in Los Angeles can dictate the false perception that the crime rate is down in the city, made me want to slam my head inside my Zack & Miri Blu-ray case.
Your action movie is OK, but Fat Seth, I don’t want OK from you. I can get OK from Shia. From you, I want spectacular.
I miss the younger, hungrier Seth Rogen. And I mean “hungrier” literally.
I’d like to think you’re still out there, somewhere, eating entire bags of Doritos in one sitting, inhaling bowls of pot and watching 1970s sitcoms in his underwear.
With sincere hopes that you Oprah up again,
Your Pal Phil
Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou and Cameron Diaz. Written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, based on the George W. Trendle radio series. Directed by Michel Gondry. 119 minutes. Rated PG-13.