“That was commentary commentary.”
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are currently bringing season two of AMC’s Preacher to life each week, but they’re still best known for their feature film work. From Superbad to Sausage Party, the pair have delivered lots of laughs over the past decade, but it was their feature directorial debut that came to mind for this week’s Commentary Commentary. We’re celebrating America this week you see.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for…
This Is the End (2013)
Commentators: Evan Goldberg (co-writer/co-director), Seth Rogen (co-writer/co-director/actor)
1. The first line of dialogue in the film is spoken by Goldberg as a fan recognizing Rogen.
2. They recorded the commentary a few days before the film opened and have no idea how it’s going to be received. In case they still haven’t found out, someone let them know it earned $117 million worldwide and has an impressive 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Rogen asks the tech guys during the commentary to turn down the film’s playback volume in their headsets. This is the first time I’ve heard someone do that. “It’s a commentary into the commentary!”
4. The scene with Rogen and Jay Baruchel driving away from the airport was shot as one thirty-minute take.
5. They don’t know what gluten is.
6. Baruchel’s arrival at Rogen’s house originally saw Rogen have nothing prepared for his friend, but they changed it on the spot by gathering up Baruchel’s favorite things (Coke, Starbursts, weed) and improvising the scene.
7. Baruchel truly does not like parties.
8. The front of James Franco‘s house is mostly CG. The interior was built in a coffee bean warehouse. There were so many movies filming in New Orleans at the time that there were no proper sound stages available.
9. They asked architect Frank Gehry if they could say he designed it, but he declined.
10. Franco made more than two dozen paintings for his walls in the film.
11. “We’ve told this story a lot,” says Rogen, “but [Rihanna] actually slapped the shit out of [Michael Cera].” He’s holding his ear because she really hurt it.
12. The dog pic on the phone is Rogen’s dog, Zelda.
13. Jason Segel and Kevin Hart have known each other since 2001 when they shot a pilot together for Judd Apatow.
14. The Pineapple Express sequel idea being discussed is their actual idea for the sequel. The exchange is also Franco explaining what happens in the end of this movie.
15. Craig Robinson is known for busting out a keyboard at parties and singing “Take Yo Panties Off.”
16. There was originally a beat at the party with Baruchel saying “California” in his best John McClane in Die Hard voice, but it wasn’t working so they cut it.
17. Cera’s bare butt is actually CG. “We made it more of a bubble butt than Michael actually has.”
18. The production designer on Green Hornet told them that if they’re going to build something they should also destroy it. So they did just that on this film.
19. Franco insisted on holding a Fanta during the scene where they first learn about the apocalypse.
20. They forgot to let Seal know in advance that they were going to be spraying his face with a blood cannon.
21. They wanted the camera work to feel normal in regard to how the characters would feel at a given moment. “We didn’t want a lot of shots that were too stylistically outside what a person’s regular perspective would be.”
22. The newscaster they watch report on the earthquake before the signal fails wasn’t happy about his dialogue as they were filming before the 2012 election and wanted him to say that both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were dead so they’d be good regardless of the outcome. The actor (and real newscaster) did not want to say it.
23. Franco’s props from 127 Hours (camera, backpack) and Flyboys (pistol) are the actual props from those films.
24. As of the recording of this commentary the people at Milky Way have yet to send them free Milky Way bars as thanks for having the characters praise them. “It could have been a Mars bar, but we chose Milky Way out of respect.”
25. They told composer Henry Jackman that there didn’t need to be any rhyme or reason to the score.
26. The only commentaries Goldberg has ever listened to are for Starship Troopers and The Shining.
27. They almost cut the Pineapple Express home video bit feeling that it crossed the line from self-referential into self-indulgence.
28. They didn’t initially have a female character in the film beyond the party sequence. “We were afraid to have a woman come back because it’s about a bunch of guys, and if Danny Boyle’s brilliant masterpiece 28 Days Later proved anything it’s that when you one woman in an apocalyptic situation shit gets rapey.” Having a female return was suggested multiple times, but concern about it “feeling rapey” always killed the idea. That changed though when a studio executive at Sony said they should embrace the rapey vibe and make it a joke.
29. They filmed a scene with Franco wearing a Green Goblin mask while Rogen wore a Spider-Man t-shirt, “but it just didn’t click with people.”
30. Rogen can be seen visibly laughing from behind during the verbal spat between Franco and McBride about the magazine.
31. The only scene they’ve ever filmed that took more takes than the one here with the gun in Danny McBride’s mouth was the Bill Hader bit in Superbad where he says “I’m sorry I blocked your cock.”
32. The pair disappear during most of the scene where Jonah Hill is assaulted by the devil before reappearing with “the other thing is…” It sounds like a section was cut from the commentary as opposed to them just being quiet.
33. Regarding the devil’s dong, they initially “amped it up and gave it some shine and veininous” knowing they could then scale it back to what they actually wanted once the MPAA said it was too much. “It’s a trick we learned from Team America,” but the MPAA didn’t end up having a problem with it.
34. The last shot filmed was the bit with Rogen peeing in his own mouth.
35. This is common knowledge, but their film-making style is one of “style and panache.”
36. They initially shot a practical version of the demon dog — a guy in a costume — but decided to replace it with CG as it never quite worked the way they envisioned.
37. They point out the dog demon’s teats and suggest its baby will appear in the sequel.
38. The confessional scene initially featured some joke confessions that even Rogen felt went too far.
39. For those that missed it, the choir voices as Robinson is lifted into heaven are saying “Take yo panties off.”
40. “A lot of people are probably wondering how the fuck we got Channing Tatum to do this,” says Rogen. He points out that the character is always Tatum, even with the mask on and petting McBride’s groin area. They weren’t initially going to have a known actor play the sexual gimp “because I assumed no one would,” but he emailed Tatum and heard back twenty minutes later with “I’m in.”
41. Franco fought them on his character dying as he didn’t think it should happen. Once he realized it was a losing argument he suggested the false rapture bit instead. “That joke’s literally from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.”
42. They filmed a bit with Tatum cutting off Franco’s foot, eating it, and screaming as blood covered everything. “Audiences just don’t want to see Channing Tatum do that.”
43. The movie originally ended with Seth and Jay rising up into heaven as the final shot, but early audiences demanded to see heaven.
44. Goldberg gives his wife credit for the idea of featuring the Backstreet Boys in the end heaven sequence, but Rogen calls bullshit.
45. They had to tell the company making the end credits three times that they were serious about wanting each name card to be a different color. They’re big Stanley Kubrick fans.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“It was just a little too much Michael Cera.”
“I drank your dick son.”
“Franco was like ‘That’s not how arms cut off, I was in 127 Hours, I know how arms come off.'”
“This towel continuity got difficult at times.”
“If you’re listening to this in the future Twitter is a technology that is popular in 2013.”
“Am I proud that ‘Gangnam Style’ is in this movie? I don’t know.”
“If this joke doesn’t work we are fucked in the butthole.”
“It’s fun rewriting the bible.”
“You feel bad making people do stunts for comedy.”
This Is the End remains a very funny movie, and the commentary offers up some laughs of its own. Rogen and Goldberg disappear a few times towards the end, but for the most part they talk steadily and share plenty of anecdotes and insight into the production.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.