Every once in a while, a movie comes along with such a crazy concept that it could either be really, really bad or the type of movie that’s good for a laugh while drinking with your buddies, but not much else. While I was quite stoked for ‘This is the End’ because of who was in it, I found it difficult to entertain the thought that I’d get more out of it than a few amusing gags. However, as I sat in the theater laughing harder than I have in a long time in between some great character moments, I found that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut had a lot more to offer than toilet humor.
Based on the short film ‘Jay and Seth Vs. The Apocalypse’, this sci-fi horror comedy feature not only stars good friends Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, but also a group of celebrities including Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill, as they become trapped in James Franco’s house after a wild night of partying that soon turns into a fight for survival during the apocalypse. Filled with great cameos from some of Hollywood’s current biggest names, ‘This is the End’ is a non-stop laugh fest with a hint of heart at it’s core.
While I mentioned that this film has its fair share of dick and fart jokes, as Rogen and Goldberg’s films often do, a lot of the comedy came from the actors themselves and their own lives. Each cast member plays a fictionalized version of their real life selves and there are a ton of jokes that show that they’re all good sports about their careers, even the stuff that didn’t really fly with audiences. I was particularly entertained by the small jabs at ‘Green Hornet’ and ‘Your Highness’, but the commentary on how sequels come about during the ‘Pineapple Express 2’ bit was golden. In fact, there was a good amount of interesting commentary scattered throughout the film veiled by comedy. As with most good comedies, there is an element of truth hidden in the jokes that make a connection to the audience that much stronger.
Not only were the main cast willing to laugh at themselves, but so were the multiple celebrities who made cameos in the film. Michael Cera specifically stood out as a main source of amusement in the film for the short time that he was featured. Like Rogen, Cera often gets criticized for taking the same roles over and over again, so it’s interesting that both of these actors find a real sweet spot when they’re playing “themselves”. While the ‘Superbad’ star may not be a coke fiend in real life, it was a great time to see him play one in this movie.
Cera’s cameo was among many memorable ones like Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and (surprisingly) Rhianna, however, it was a little disappointing that these appearances trickled out towards the middle of the film. I was hoping that as they ventured away from Franco’s house a bit, Jay, Seth, and company would encounter even more people, but that was not so. There are a couple of pretty sweet gags in the later part of the film that paid off with some nice surprise appearances, so my nitpickiness towards that aspect were satisfied by the end.
But speaking of the end, my biggest problem with ‘This is the End’ was that the third act was incredibly rushed. After spending so much time developing the plot and the characters in the first two acts, the film seemed to rush through the climax. There was an opportunity to expand on the events and the pure magnitude of what was going on a little bit more, but the filmmakers figuratively sprinted to the finish line once the crew left Franco’s house. Despite that slip up, there was enough awesome stuff in the movie to save this small structural problem. I just happen to be a stickler with this sort of thing.
Finally, one department that didn’t have any problems at all was the CG department. I wasn’t even expecting the use of major CG effects at all for this movie, but it looks like the big names were able to draw big money for their project to get some of the best apocalyptic effects they could get. Some of the explosions and creatures that popped up in ‘This is the End’ can certainly rival any blockbuster that comes out this summer.
To put things plainly, ‘This is the End’ might be the funniest movie of the summer. It may even be one of the funniest of the year. Personally, I hadn’t laughed at a movie like that in a really long time. In fact, I really want to go back and watch it again to catch all the jokes I missed. But under all the laughter, there was a sweet message of friendship and doing good in your life that made the experience all the more rich. Basically, you won’t find a movie more fun than this for a while, so go see it as many times as you can.