This Is the End

This is the End photo starrating-4stars.jpgA group of revelers party hard at a luxurious home in Los Angeles, oblivious that the end of the world is happening while they enjoy themselves inside. Six friends find safety in the modern mansion after a series of apocalyptic events lay waste to the planet outside the protective shelter of their confinement. Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg expand on the short “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse.” This writing team has been responsible for amusing highs (Superbad, Pineapple Express) and at least one crushing low (The Watch) so I approached this with guarded expectations. I’m happy to report, This is the End sports a hilarious script packed with laughs.

One of the ingenuities of the script is that the stars are in fact playing James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, or rather an alternate reality version of themselves. The riffs on their own personae is a smart idea. The cast encompasses virtually anyone who has ever appeared in a Judd Apatow production. There’s also a few new additions to keep things fresh. I suspect there is more accuracy to some characterizations than others. Michael Cera for example spoofs his timid nice guy image as a cocaine snorting, sexually preoccupied creep. It’s absolutely bonkers. On the contrary, Jay Baruchel’s insecurity as a lesser star, that prevents him from bonding with Seth Rogen’s celebrity buddies has a ring of truth to it.  The screenwriters aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves or their own bad movies (The Green Hornet, Your Highness) either. It’s self depreciating in other ways too. The very plot condemns our heroes as unfit for heaven. While the devout are beamed up body and soul, everyone at the party is left behind to fend for themselves.

The set up of This is the End is brilliant. The plot exists as sort of a series of comedy sketches. The script pays homage to movies of the past. Clever send-ups abound for knowing film buffs including The Exorcist, Ghostbusters and a scene from Rosemary’s Baby that’s mostly a shot for shot copy with one slight modification. Poor Jonah Hill. By fashioning the majority of the satire inside an LA home, it gives our 6 stars the opportunity to monologue on a variety of subjects. Much of their interactive banter is side-splitting. Franco and McBride’s verbal sparring over the mishandling of an adult magazine devolves into a conversation of unbalanced insanity. It’s refreshing that while their conversations are frequently accusatory they never devolve into mean-spiritedness. As they exhibit a jovial camaraderie in the face of mounting danger, you always get the feeling these guys still like each other. Their 6 personalities give the audience someone with which to identify and /or appreciate. However that doesn’t mean everyone behaves with the best of intentions. Danny Mc Bride basically becomes the worst person who ever lived.

Stoner movie, slacker comedy, the arrested development of grown men in their 30s. It’s a tradition that perhaps started in 1978 with National Lampoon’s Animal House and has continued with last year’s Ted.  This is the End compares favorably with those works. No this isn’t highbrow stuff.  Admittedly, it can be puerile and jejune at times. All the soporific humor gets a bit excessive. And the running time could use the benefits of an editor. It drags for about 20 minutes before the final act (which is thankfully inspired). But the overall theme promotes a redemptive heart. After all, these people were forsaken when the faithful were being taken up into heaven during the rapture. There’s brilliance in its simple truths. For example — James Franco attempting to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity to his confused friend. “It’s like Neapolitan ice cream.” More often than not this riff on the end of the world is a funny, and even insightful, sketch comedy. A model of the genre that deserves to be the most quotable film of 2013.

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40 Responses to “This Is the End”

  1. Had me howling like a banshee, and that was already in the first 10 minutes! From there, it was just a free-for-all of laughs, spills, some chills, but most of all, a damn good time. Nice review Mark.

  2. Nice review. I’m not a fan of Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill but I’ve read plenty of positive reviews. I might check this out.

  3. wow. i need to see this.

  4. Great review Mark. A couple points that you nailed that I really was trying to get at, but just couldn’t:

    1) “Franco and McBride’s verbal sparring over the mishandling of an adult magazine devolves into a conversation of unbalanced insanity. It’s refreshing that while their conversations are frequently accusatory they never devolve into mean-spiritedness.” — YES!! I couldn’t have described that/these segments any better, and I too was impressed how it never did duck into mean-spiritedness. Vile, sure. But not excessively negative.

    2) “There’s brilliance in its simple truths.” — this is what I thought the movie really excelled at. Trailers looked dubious, but this is a movie we can almost sort of learn something from. In an R-rated format, of course.

    • Thanks so much. I spent a bit of time trying to justify what made this film succeed despite the fact that many of the jokes were rather immature. There was humor in that too, but there’s a deeper meaning behind the proceedings.

  5. I’ll read this after I write my review, Mark. I loved every second of this. I can’t wait to watch it again. Definitely my favourite movie of 2013. 😀

  6. I’m not one for gross-out humor or drug jokes, but this movie was hilarious. The ending was a bit over the top, but it was all in good fun.

    • I know what you mean. Dirty jokes can get tiresome if that’s all there is. This poked fun at celebrity in a humorous way and still found time to parody classic films while still advancing a humorous story.

  7. Great post, great blog. Followed. Now I need to see this film! It sounds hilarious

  8. I loved this movie. I had no idea going in,that the characters would be playing themselves. Nice touch. It was very funny, and some of the scenes and dialogue were ridiculous. But I didn’t care. It had me rolling. 4 stars

    • I somehow avoided the trailers to this so not only did I not realize that the actors would be playing themselves, but I had no idea how many cameos would pop up. Definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the film.

  9. I still have to see Superbad, but I think I should like this. Great review!

  10. I laughed so much and wasn’t expecting to. Haha. Spot on review

  11. I just saw this yesterday and surprisingly really enjoyed it. I have laughed so hard at a recent film for quite a while

  12. GaryLee828 Says:

    I liked Superbad way more than this; i was actually getting bored in this one, which like you said it could have used an edit. I like James Franco and Jonah Hill, but not a fan of Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride (though i like Eastbound & Down) and I especially can’t stand Craig Robinson b/c he’s just not talented, or remotely interesting at all.

    I would have preferred if Jason Segel and Aziz Ansari were in the house since I think those two are hilarious. Danny Mcbride was just too much of a bully and control freak, and I thought that act got annoying, especially since he kept doing things to hurt the group. I just got really bored with the characters, and felt it became really redundant after a while. I did laugh a few times, but too far in-between.

    So, we’re disagreeing for the first time in a while; let’s see if we agree on Man of Steel. I suspect you will be posting a review soon?

  13. Victor De Leon Says:

    I have got to see this. Franco and Neapolitan Ice Cream? Brilliant. Good review, Mark!

  14. Totally agree, Mark, this movie was hysterical! It is all thanks to these stars’ willingness to be self-deprecating, too. 😀 Nice review!

  15. So excited for this film! Great review, Marky!

  16. I thought this movie was funny and benefited from a great premise, although I didn’t find it nearly as uproarious as others I saw it with. I was disappointed that more of the main characters didn’t really go wild with their opportunity to play outrageous versions of themselves. Danny McBride was the only person to truly run with that. I totally agree that it could have been chopped down a bit to become tighter. Great review Mark.

  17. I agree, not the most advanced of films, but I thought it was straight up hysterical throughout. Franco and McBride just killed me. That Neapolitan ice cream line was amazing.

    • If by “not advanced” you mean crude then yes I agree. But it wasn’t stupid comedy. There was intelligence behind the jokes.

      While this was a moderate hit, it didn’t break out in the way I had hoped. It’s going to have a tough time breaking the $100 million barrier in the U.S.

  18. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout this one. Loved Emma Watson’s cameo (“Hermione just stole all of our shit” hahahha). Had to hear my father ramble on on the way home about how he couldn’t believe he’d just taken me to see such an immoral movie. LOL.

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