Inspired by This is the End – where five of Hollywood’s A-List comedy faces, Danny McBride, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson, wake up to find themselves high and dry with a front seat to the end of the world – VICE is spending a whole week exploring the hilarious side of the Apocalypse. If this is the end, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Breakfast Club, Dazed and Confused – America’s always had the market cornered on movies that are best served high-as-fuck. If you know your movie history, there’s a name for that group of actors who made careers out of high fiving in the background of end credits to shitty 80s music. They’re called the “Brat Pack”.
But those dudes are all old and lame now, and if they still smoke weed it’s probably only on camping trips with other parents from a pretentiously expensive vapouriser. And they probably call it “wacky baccy.” Thankfully, our generation of potheads has a new Brat Pack to call our own: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel. The old Brat Pack may have handed the torch down to these guys, but they took it, lit a huge blunt off it and said, “Fuck you, we’re better.” Rogen’s latest film, This is the End, hits theatres on June 28th, so let’s take a look at why these red-eyed slackers kick their predecessors’ asses.
Slackers – the new jock?
In the 1980s-era Brat Pack films, the slacker was always a loser. He’d stumble out of a smoky jeep with his long-haired bros and deliver some vowel-heavy stonerism before getting a condescending shake of the head from the handsome lead male: “Woooaah duuude. They should toooootally marilise leguajana.” “Not cool bro, get a job.” I guess it was a hard time to be a stoner in the 80s – Reagan had literally declared a war on your people, which he called “the War on Drugs”. What a douche.
In those days the slacker was only a minor character, and his story never got serious treatment. Like in Fast Times: Linda Barrett gets accepted into UC Riverside and everyone’s super psyched for her, but what the fuck happens to Jeff Spicoli? I guess he just kind of melted into a sofa somewhere, never to be seen again.
But in Rogen movies, the slacker takes centre stage. Now that the 80s are over and states are beginning to legalise weed, the jock has fucked off back to his locker room and the pot-smoker is stealing his women. In the words of the film professor who sometimes pops into my head, “Michael Cera’s opportunistic spank of Rihanna’s consecrated ass in This is the End is nothing less than a Gramscian stab at the cultural hegemony of athletes and popular kids in American culture.” What he means by that is “These days, stoners can get laid too.”
There are, and always have been, two kinds of stoner: The first kind are the guys who don’t leave their sofa until the stack of empty pizza boxes starts to block the TV. Our new Brat Pack, though, is definitely in the “productive pothead” camp. In the old days a hard-working weed-smoker occupied the literary space of a stoner Uncle Tom; his productivity made him a traitor to his people (sorry, there’s that douchey film professor again). Today’s tokers are more motivated than beavers on coke.
Franco teaches at NYU and has a PhD in English from Yale. Rogen transitioned from writer to director more seamlessly than any of the Hollywood pretty boys who’ve failed to do the same, and he has one of the most impressive screen-writing CVs in Hollywood. Even a lazily rolled joint doesn’t cut it these days: it’s gotta be a fancy-ass cross-joint.
In a film like This is the End, where every actor plays himself and does a shit-ton of improv, you need some serious group vibes for it to work. Which is great, because when the new Brat Pack are on set you could cut through the bromantic tension with a paddle. The camaraderie between Rogen and Baruchel is enough to make Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn consider a career change (which should be easy for Vaughn, because he’s starting to look a lot like a truck driver). The old Brat Pack was torn apart by melodrama, drugs and sex tapes, but the new one is just a group of bros who like to chill together and make great movies.
You’ve gotta love the classics, but the slacker of today can out-act, out-write and out-smoke the slacker of the 1980s. I guess at some point American potheads decided to trade their longboards in for MacBooks and became award-winning writers and directors. Who knows, one day we might even see our first slacker president (fingers crossed). Long live the new Brat Pack.
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At Cinemas June 28