Because I hate myself so completely, I continue to read Entertainment Weekly, and every week there’s at least one thing that boils my blood and causes me to involuntarily throw the magazine at my fireplace. This week it was an article about “stoner movies” in which the author boldly stated that pot movies make lots of money because they do. Way to go out on a limb! But it wasn’t the stupidity of the puff piece that made me mad given that I have been completely desensitized to inane puff pieces. What made me mad was Seth Rogan. He obviously feels he has made the best stoner movies to date.
Everyone who knows their stoner films knows that Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke was the movie that started it all. Rogan says in the article that while he loves the film it really isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination (I’m paraphrasing because I burned the magazine after throwing it at my fireplace and can’t reference the article.) Tommy Chong of course disagreed with the statement, which doesn’t really mean anything given that he’s always really high, and Cheech Marin apparantly couldn ‘t be reached for comment because he doesn’t give a shit as he’s left the seventies behind for lots of money and a house in Malibu. And I realize that Up In Smoke has no “three-act” structure, but in my mind that Robert McKee bullshit has left movies feeling for the most part overly corporate, or as some might say, “Fucking dull.” Up In Smoke is an episodic comedy about two stoners moving from one silly situation to the other which has got to be the perfect structure for its core audience, a bunch of people too high to follow a narrative anyway. (The episodic structure worked for a little movie called Raiders of the Lost Ark as well, if you can recall. And I’m not even going to mention Caddyshack. Oh, wait. I just did. Forget I said anything.)
Rogan’s modern stoner movies, most recently Knocked Up and Superbad, satisfy the corporate structure demands, but add lots of scenes of tangential stoner gags (very funny gags, certainly.) The results are screwball comedies that run over two hours, and are goddamn exhausting. The most memorable stuff from Knocked Up had nothing to do with the unrealistic romance at the center of the movie, but all the arbitrary bits. This is less true about the narrative of Superbad, as I found the story of two friends who have to “break up” with one another very funny, but from what I can tell the most memorable part of the movie for the majority of audiences is McLovin’s story of cruising around town with two completely unrealistically drawn small town cops. And it is funny, but if you were to have cut the whole damn thing no one would have felt the movie’s three acts were missing anything. What I’m saying here is that in my opinion, Rogan’s movies aren’t good movies by any stretch of the imagination, either. Studios, driven only by their marketing departments in creative decision making, demand three acts and a story line that feels “realistic” so people can relate to it, I guess because modern audiences can’t leave their real lives at the door in order to go on a gonzo trip (has everyone really been that hypnotized by marketing and advertising? Or do we still have access to the silly part of our souls?) For me, in fact, the most unrelatable parts of his movies are the “thrust” of his narratives, because it seems in his “real world” fat stoner geeks hook up with incredibly gorgeous model-actress types (true of both Knocked Up and Superbad.) Maybe that is true somewhere, but I’ve never met anyone who lived that reality. Fat stoner geeks hook up with dorky stoner chicks in most circumstances. In my personal circumstance growing up in a small New England town, I never hooked up with anyone which is pretty much why I smoked. And drank. And watched cppious amounts of porn stolen from the video store in which I worked.
Rogan needs to look at Up In Smoke again and re-edit his movies focusing on the fun bits of nonsense. Fuck the so-called plots. Cheech and Chong had it right, lots of funny in ninety minutes. And none of that nonsense romance. Just smoking and seeing naked boobs and having a good time while Stacey Keach slowly transforms into a lizard after smoking bad weed.
Stop hurting me, EW!