December 10, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

On Saturday afternoon I attended a long lead press day for the great looking DreamWorks animated movie “Monsters vs. Aliens”. In the coming week I’ll have entire interviews with most of the cast, but I wanted to post what Seth Rogen said about “Observe and Report”, “Funny People” and “The Green Hornet” immediately.

As most of you might have heard, director Jody Hill and Seth Rogen have made a studio backed comedy called “Observe and Report” that absolutely pushes the boundaries of the genre. Since I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises…I’ll just say Seth does a few things that you will not believe.

I have a friend who saw a test screening and he said he was actually offended in a few scenes. And this guy is a liberal screenwriter.

Anyway, WB is clearly nervous about the movie as they’ve tested the film a few times and they’ve had draconian security at each one. I’ve heard they pretty much threaten to end your family if you talk about the movie. Okay, slight exaggeration, but you get the drift.

But, according to Seth, they’re going to be releasing the movie “completely un-neutered”. So if you were nervous that you’d never get to see what Seth and Jody made until the DVD came out…you don’t have to worry.

Here’s what he said. I’ve also posted his quotes on “Funny People” and “The Green Hornet”.

Collider: I have a few things, but I’ll start with the update on “Observe and Report”.

Seth: Yeah.

The test screening process has been going on.

Seth: Yes.

Have you heard if Warner Brothers is going to release the film the way you guys did it? Because I know you guys have tested it a number of times and has the test screening process—have the scores been going up, have they been staying the same?

Seth: We did one version at the request of the studio that was slightly more–I don’t know if neutered is the word—but toned down at times. And it actually dropped in its scores so the final version of the movie is almost done now and the final version is pretty much exactly how we would want it. I can’t think of one thing really that they made us change that we didn’t want to. I mean, I’ve not seen…Jody’s made some changes…just actually I might go in tomorrow and record some more voice-over stuff for one part of it, but yeah, they’ve let us do it. It’s crazy. It’s happened. (laughter).

There’s been a lot of talk about it maybe not making…well a lot of internet chatter of it maybe being neutered a little bit.

Seth: Yeah. Un-neutered. Completely un-neutered. Exactly what we would want. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but for me, when I watch it, I can’t believe it. I mean, it’s like again it’s a marvel. To me it’s a marvel that a studio let us make that movie. And they really like it. To their credit like they really like the movie. They can appreciate it, you know? I mean, it plays well. You watch it in a theatre and people go crazy. It’s an insane movie. You see people looking at each other going “What the hell? How did they get away with this?” And that’s what I love, you know? And yeah, they’re letting us do it. It will be an uncompromised version.

And if I can also ask you’ve been shooting “Funny People” with Judd Apatow.

Seth: Yeah, yeah.

Have you wrapped on that and how was that process as compared to some of this other films that you’ve worked with him on?

Seth: We’ve not wrapped. We shoot kind of halfway through January and it’s been great. It’s been a lot of fun. Janusz adds an entirely different element to the filming process as the D.P. He’s just a real presence on the set and the way he films things actually makes the entire process different in a lot of ways, you know? He’s able to set up multiple cameras. 3-5 cameras at times on scenes so we can really improvise to a level that we haven’t been able to in the past and it looks beautiful in a way that it never as before really and we’ve been shooting stand-up comedy in actual clubs with real audiences with 5 cameras with 2,000 foot rolls of film on them and we film them as though there actual performances. We tell them to laugh if it’s funny and not laugh if it’s not funny and it looks incredible and to me that stuff is what seems truly kind of new and to actually have the actors performing with actual stand-up comics and actual audiences and to use it in the movie as part of the narrative is exciting to me. I mean, that’s the stuff that I think is really cool.

You guys play stand-up comics. Have you guys incorporated or gotten any real stand-up comics to come into the movie and have scenes with you guys? People that the audience would recognize?

Seth: I’m not going to say who, but I can say yes. There’s a very large amount of actual stand-up comics in the movie. And a lot of them have performed for us in the movie. I mean, when we do these comedy nights we don’t just have us perform. We invite…we do it like it’s a comedy show. We have an emcee. We have opening acts. We invite people we know to come and just perform. We film all of it but we tell them you know maybe we’ll use some. Maybe we’ll use a joke. Maybe we won’t use any of it. We’ll just put it on the DVD, but we like to warm up the audiences like it’s an actual comedy club, you know? So their reactions are real, so when the joke bombs they react exactly like the joke is bombing and when a joke kills you really feel like you earned the laugh and we’re not just inserting it, you know? And it looks like a real comedy performance. What I kept saying to Janusz is people are so familiar with seeing comedy filmed like on HBO and Comedy Central, they’re like they’ll be able to tell if it’s fake. They’ll be able to tell for making people laugh when they’re not actually laughing and all that. So, when I watch it, it looks like any comedy you’ve seen but Janusz Kaminski filmed it so it looks a lot better.

Andy Dick is listed as himself.

Seth: Yeah, he came in. (laughter). IMDB cheated us out of that reveal. Yes, Andy Dick is great in the movie actually.

I have one last question. It’s a Green Hornet question and I wanted to know when are you guys actually starting to film it and how has Stephen Chow and you and Evan been working together to fine-tune to the vision that you guys all share together?

Seth: We should ultimately start shooting in May and the process has been very collaborative. It’s been very good. He’s given us a lot of ideas. His English is-you know-we keep saying when we all come out of this we will be great communicators. (laughter). And he’s made great strides I will say and it presents its own challenges at times but we get along really, really well but we’re really just starting the process. I mean, very little has actually been done. I mean, he hasn’t even come here full-time from Hong Kong yet, so I mean we’re actually in the very preliminary stages right now but everything’s been going good so far.

Do you already think in the back of your mind with Comic-Con being such a presence nowadays, do you already think, maybe we might want to get something…?

Seth: Oh yeah. Literally having that conversation this week. Yeah.

Do you think there’s anything that you….that the fans could look forward to something?

Seth: I hope so. I mean, yeah ideally I mean, I love Comic….I mean Comic-Con is my favorite like event of the year like it’s more fun to me than our movie premieres than like anything. I mean, I love Comic-Con. All of our friends come down for it and we just have a really good time. I mean it’s always a lot of fun so yeah, I would love nothing more than to be able to show something at Comic-Con. I mean, who knows. I’ve not had one conversation with the studio about this but me, as a person, I would love to give the people what they want! And you can blame Sony if they don’t.

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