This is the End (2013)

12 Jun

1170481 - The End Of The World

Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

When I heard about “This is the End,” a comedy about Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill surviving the end of the world, and then I heard that these great comic actors were playing themselves (or rather, exaggerated versions of themselves), I wasn’t sure how to respond. But I was thinking—if done right, it would be absolutely fantastic in how wild it all sounds; if done wrong, it would be the most self-indulgent, painfully-obvious, obnoxious piece of crap to come to the big screen in a long time. But just by this concept alone, I realized I had to see this movie! And thankfully, “This is the End” turned out to be as brilliant as it sounds.

It is also, don’t get me wrong, the wildest, most outrageous comedy to come around in a long, long time. I dare you to find another comedy released in the past few years with as much ambition, outrageous aspects, energy, and as a result, as much hilarity to come from such. Practically every scene, as I can recall, has something to laugh at—even moments when I was laughing in spite of myself. I’m not entirely sure what all I get away with revealing among the vulgarities in this movie, but if three or four scenes didn’t earn the film an NC-17 rating, I think the R rating will be stuck to just about anything mainstream. There are so many moments that are very much “out there,” to say the least, and on top of that, there are overly-done sexual sight gags—not the best film to see on a first date, that’s for sure.

Even co-writers/co-directors Rogen & Evan Goldberg (yes, “Superbad”/”Pineapple Express” co-writers Rogen and Goldberg direct their script this time—another reason I was looking forward to seeing this movie) were reportedly surprised to find that they got away with an R instead of an NC-17. If there was no issue with the ratings board about most of the gags seen here, then there’s pretty much anything than can get away with an R rating. No doubt about it.

But I digress. The movie opens with old friends Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel reuniting in Los Angeles. They catch up on current events, spend time together eating fast-food and getting stoned, and then Rogen brings Baruchel to James Franco’s house-warming party at his new mansion in the Hills. Who else should be there but Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride, and also there’s Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Jason Segel, Rihanna, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, David Krumholtz, Mindy Kaling, Christopher MIntz-Plasse…Am I missing somebody? I believe I am. There were so many celebrity appearances at this party, all playing themselves, that I have to wonder if maybe I missed Leslie Mann or even Judd Apatow somewhere. But anyway, they’re all playing pretend versions of themselves here and it’s a wonderful comic move in how they can poke fun at their careers, highlights, memorable qualities, etc. And there’s also room for major contrast—not with Jay Baruchel, who is just about as awkward as in a lot of films he’s acted in; but mainly with Michael Cera. Cera has about five minutes of screen time, and he’s freaking hilarious. Why? Because the nice kid from “Superbad” and “Juno” is now playing an ass-grabbing, coke-sniffing, obnoxious jerk (or seven-letter word for “jerk”) that is supposed to be the “real Michael Cera.” His exit in this movie is also hilarious and also manages the Cera-esque awkwardness, though it’s all the more hilarious in how it was set up with him (or rather, his character).

And speaking of exits, or rather the end, the Rapture is here! In the middle of the party, Rogen and Baruchel stop by a nearby gas station, only to witness the beginning of insanity of apocalyptic proportions—explosions are heard, booming is felt, people are absorbed by blue light up into Heaven, and everyone else is left to endure (gulp!) the apocalypse. And get this—no one at Franco’s house noticed anything because nobody there was apparently worthy enough for Heaven. Things get more extreme when earthquakes arrive and a large sinkhole swallows a good majority of the party until Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Robinson, McBride, and Hill are left to hole up inside the mansion and figure out how to survive together. They spent most of their time figuring eating/drinking plans while also trying to agree with one another, getting stoned, reading (and abusing) porn magazines, and—I’m not even kidding—they even make a trailer for an unofficial “Pineapple Express 2.” (When I saw that scene, I laughed and laughed and laughed!) But when demons rise from the pits of Hell, they find that they can only survive for so long before they realize they must find a way to get to Heaven.

Remember when Bill Murray played himself in “Zombieland” or when Neil Patrick Harris played an incredibly vulgar version of himself in the “Harold & Kumar” movies? Remember how much laughs you can get from a comic actor exaggerating with his/her own personality? Such is the case with pretty much everyone in the cast here, which mainly consists of celebrities. Michael Cera, like I said, is an unbelievably funny masterstroke of writing, and Emma Watson even at one point comes to visit the six men and threatens them with an axe the moment “rape” is mentioned. (Yes—Hermione Granger with an axe!) But how about the six principles? They pitilessly lampoon themselves by going for the easy targets and the…not-so-easy targets. Their public images, their personalities—everything that the public thinks they know about them (but are probably not entirely right about) is broadly developed here, and that makes it all the more funny. We have Seth Rogen as the sometimes-reliable buddy who laughs that distinctive laugh and constantly gets stoned; we have James Franco as an oddball whose indifference in most of his performances is exaggerated (and also, he collects props from his films, like the camera in “127 Hours” which the group members use to make video-diaries); we have Jonah Hill as a former loudmouth turned fancy Oscar-nominated actor trying to keep his cool; we have Craig Robinson as the calm, relaxed “big-guy” role you see him in, only with more vulnerability and also a tendency to try new, disgusting things (like drinking his own pee); Jay Baruchel is the sweet-natured outcast here, as he usually plays the “awkward-odd-man-out” role, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s probably the only sensible one in the entire group. And then there’s Danny McBride—good Lord, is this guy horrid! If you thought he was unlikeable in many other movies, he’s incredibly obnoxious here and entirely hateful. McBride is a loser, plain and simple—there is nothing redeemable about this guy at all. And that was the purpose in exaggeration, of course—the result is freaking hilarious. All of these actors are game at this difficult task, and it’s very funny watching them trying to be nice to each other.

“This is the End” features many great moments, but I won’t dare give away even a majority of them. Even for those I did unintentionally give away, no worries—there’s a lot going on in this movie, as you feel that Rogen and Goldberg put their all into this. Even if it doesn’t work (and a couple vulgar-dialogue scenes do run on for a bit longer then they probably should), it keeps going and continuing with a new trick.

With that said, what more can I say about “This is the End?” There’s a lot I can say about this one-joke movie with comic figures poking fun at each other while surviving the apocalypse. But with a no-spoilers policy, I’ll leave you to enjoy the unbelievably-outrageous final half, along with what leads up to it. We’ve got a good couple months in the summer, but I’m going to make a prediction that no other comedy this summer-movie season is going to be as hilarious as “This is the End.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: