In a time when comedy is usually defined by how idiotically Will Ferrell reacts to everyday situations, it’s nice to know that there are still screwball antic movies that can be coarse, funny, and original. Stars you know well (Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, etc.) and some not so well (Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel) all play fictionalized versions of themselves in this apocalyptic comedy, This is the End. Jay comes to LA to visit his good friend Seth, and to Jay’s disappointment, the two end up at a party at James Franco’s house. At the party, celebrities appear left and right; Michael Cera makes a poorly recieved attempt to hit on Rihanna, Craig Robinson and Emma Watson discuss their mutual love of Forrest Gump, the trio from Superbad relive their glory days, oh, and the world ends.
A handful of the stars, including Craig, Seth, James, Jonah, Jay and Danny, survive the initial shockwave, but are discouraged when they find out why they’re still on earth. After determining that this is the Biblical Apocalypse, they conclude they were not among those worthy enough to ascend into heaven. Instead, they must struggle to stay alive on the now treacherous, hell-like Earth, where cannibals and demonic monsters are waiting just outside of Franco’s to take the actors’ lives as part of the rapture.
Now, with a cast like this, it’s clear that the bulk of the comedy is similar to such films as Knocked Up, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Superbad. All of these films, including This is The End, create most of their comedy through a group of pretty famous actors both talking about, and doing inappropriate things. But in this movie, there’s a little more of a story line to the comedy on top of the usual gags, making This is The End a bit more noteworthy. Combining comedy with a truly interesting storyline and a host of recognizable faces, This is the End, stands out in a sea of stupid-humor comedies.
As a movie fan, I really appreciated the connections to other cinematic works. I saw this as a movie made by movie lovers, for movie lovers. There were obvious bows to The Exorcist and Evil Dead towards the end. But hearing things like Jonah Hill saying “God? It’s me, Jonah. From Moneyball,” listening to the Forrest Gump debate, and seeing a homemade sequel to Pineapple Express made for plenty of Hollywood nostalgia ranging from the most recent to distant years of film. Personally, one of my favorite parts of the movie was seeing Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all talking by the pool, completely contrary to the way they acted in Superbad. Seeing Cera as the reckless alcoholic and Hill and Mintz-Plasse as the well-mannered gentlemen was quite funny to those who could compare this behavior to their swaped roles in Superbad. Sometimes, the little things are the most memorable.
There’s plenty to pick at with this movie. The party scene was often a jumble of names and faces, and only some of the few jokes and puns were truly laugh-worthy. I was a bit thrown off with how the movie had household-names like James Franco and Seth Rogen placed alongside lesser-known stars like Danny McBride (for those who haven’t seen Pineapple Express) and Jay Baruchel. Both men have respectable filmographies, but aren’t recognizable in a mainstream context. Their roles and portrayals were great, but I couldn’t help but ask myself many times during the movie, “Who are these guys?”
Overall, I thought the beginning was okay, the middle was great, and the latter part was fantastic. Towards the end, I came to realize how much genius the script had and that the movie is both a delight and a crudely humorous romp for those who are able to appreciate and enjoy film at the same time.