This Is The End

Directed by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Channing Tatum, and Paul Rudd

Ridiculous. Campy. Over the top. Self-deprecating. These are all apt descriptions of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s new comedy This is the End. But most of all, This is the End is pure fun. Based on the 2007 short film Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse, This is the End brings young comedic Hollywood together to face their sins and the end of the world.

In the film, Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel play themselves, successful Canadian actors who have been friends for a long time. Seth, however, is more famous than Jay and has assimilated into Hollywood culture. Jay finds Hollywood to be full of phony, pretentious, vain jerks, and he turns his nose up at celebrity. Jay visits Seth to have a fun weekend with an old friend and to work on their friendship. Their weekend starts out harmless enough.  The fellows have a fun afternoon at Seth’s house smoking weed, playing video games and watching a 3D television.

Everything changes when Seth decides to go to James Franco’s house for a party. Jay is reluctant but agrees to go for a short while. James Franco’s house party is out of control. Celebrities such as Jonah Hill, Rihanna, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Emma Watson, Craig Robinson, Aziz Ansari and Michael Cera are drinking, doing some drugs and generally having a good time. They even playfully gather around Craig and his electronic keyboard as he sings a song called “Take Yo Panties Off.”  (Side note: Michael Cera is depicted as an insane cokehead. I was not aware that this was a thing).

Jay, however, cannot believe how conceited everyone is and is completely uncomfortable. He rolls his eyes at their vanity and excess, and scoffs at universally beloved films like Forrest Gump.  Jay convinces Seth to go walk to a nearby convenient store to grab some cigarettes. While they are there, blue lights shine down and suck people up into the sky, the Hollywood hills start burning and all hell breaks loose.  Seth and Jay run back to James Franco’s house, where all but five celebrities are sucked into a sinkhole.  Seth, Jay, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill hole up in Franco’s house and try to survive armageddon, and insanity ensues.

This is the End is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time.  The movie takes a minute to get going, but once the sinkhole hits and the celebs start scrambling, the real comedy begins. The dialogue is witty and fast-paced, although I surely missed some funny lines due to loud laughter in my theater.  Moreover, the premise is original and fun.  There is something incredibly entertaining about watching celebrities mock themselves, the industry, end of the world movies, and everything in between.  If you are familiar with the actors and their movies and television shows, it is even more enjoyable.

The movie also rises on the full commitment from the cast. The actors play their most exaggerated traits and/or perceptions. James Franco depicts himself as an artsy, philosophical, educated, whimsical, occasional jerk; Seth Rogen is the true every man, and determined to just go along to get along; Jonah Hill is saccharine sweet, and plays up his disingenuous Mr. Nice Guy persona to the hilt; Jay Baruchel plays a reverse snob—he’s too good for the Hollywood crowd, yet still a part of the industry; Craig Robinson is a big, hilarious teddy bear; and Danny McBride is just uncouth.  In terms of performances, it is a true ensemble cast but Robinson and Franco stood out for me and brought me to tears on many occasions.  Franco and Robinson's reality show styled confessionals are classic. Baruchel also resonates as the moral center of the film. 

At its core, the movie is about two friends who have grown apart, and are on somewhat divergent paths.  As you watch the film, you will find yourself rooting for the bromance between Seth and Jay to withstand new Hollywood friends, success and even demons and sinkholes.  The real friendship between the actors transcends the film, and I found myself wanting to grab a drink and hang out with the guys. 

This is the End is not without its drawbacks.  It runs a little too long. The special effects are pretty horrendous at times, but that seems to be intentional.  There is an excessive amount of penis/masturbation jokes and at some point, the jokes become cheap and juvenile.  From a large penis statue to a titan size demon penis, there is enough phallic imagery in the film to provide course material for an entire semester of a college course on feminist critical theory.  Some of the cameos were also disappointing.  Kevin Hart was not funny, which was surprising. Also, the appearance of Channing Tatum or “Tayumm” was just disturbing.  It was tough seeing Magic Mike in a Pulp Fiction-esque way.  Some things you have to say no to Channing.

With that being said, I have to reward This Is The End for creativity, taking risks and for overall entertainment value.  The end of the film alone (reminisent of Bridesmaids’ Wilson Phillips end) was worth the price of admission.  I can’t say that it is funnier than The Hangover or Bridesmaids, but I would certainly place it in that category of films.  This is the End earns a sober rating.