About 8 years ago, when all of these Judd Apatow comic actors (and friends) started coming out of the woodwork, they were like a breath of fresh air. I thought Seth Rogen stole the show in 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN. And KNOCKED UP was even better. But, I wasn’t a pushover for every single one of those movies like everyone else was. I thought SUPERBAD and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS were overrated. I didn’t care for Rogen’s OBSERVE AND REPORT, though it had its moments. I did enjoy FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, GET HIM TO THE GREEK and 21 JUMP STREET. However, in the past few years, I think everyone has been getting tired of Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel. They always play the same characters! I know these actors have a pretty loyal fanbase, but I am honestly getting tired of them. But having read the premise of THIS IS THE END, I became intrigued. Maybe this was going to be different?
Everyone in this movie is playing themselves! And not just themselves, but a satire on their known persona’s. Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen are best friends. Jay, who lives in Canada, visits Seth in L.A. to see if they can have a memorable bonding experience again like they used to. You see, they’ve been growing apart. After a few hours of video game playing and weed smoking, Seth convinces Jay to go to James Franco’s housewarming party. Jay doesn’t really like Franco or any of Seth’s other friends, but reluctantly goes anyway. At the party, things are pretty crazy. Lots of drugs and drinking going on. Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jason Segal, Emma Watson are all there. Even “innocent” Michael Cera is there, who is a coke-sniffing sex addict. Jay and Seth get into an argument, but before it can be resolved, a giant hole opens up in front of Franco’s house and demons start coming out, killing everyone. It’s the rapture. The apocalypse. Everyone at the party is virtually killed with the exception of Jay, Seth, Franco, Jonah, Craig and Danny McBride, who decide to stay put in Franco’s house. Now, they must all figure out a way to survive this horrifying event, without driving each other crazy.
Since everyone in this movie is playing themselves, this movie works based on how familiar you are with the actors involved. I can’t imagine people who don’t know Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and all of their comic friends really getting much out of this. It has a limited audience, I think. That said…. if you ARE familiar with these actors, then you should have a pretty fucking good time! This movie is one big inside joke, and if you’re in on it, then you’re going to eat this up. If not, you’re most likely to end up scratching your head. As for me, I thought it was fucking hilarious!
The reason why this movie works as well as it does IS because every actor is doing some sort of parody of themselves. It’s like they found out why people are getting sick of them, and decide to poke fun at their persona’s. I love how Seth Rogen makes fun of his very recognizable laugh in a scene when a paparazzi asks him to “do the laugh”. Jay Baruchel is the heart of the picture. He is the voice of reason. He’s not a big party guy. He just wants his friendship with Seth to work out. But he still gets in on the fun too. Jonah Hill, who usually plays a kind of slob, portrays himself as the “nicest person in the world”, and it actually turns out amusingly creepy. Also, what happens to Jonah in the final act is a pretty funny development, which I can only imagine must have been great fun for the actor. James Franco is doing his “Franco” thing, and it’s pretty awesome. I was surprised by how good Craig Robinson was in this. He gets a lot of the film’s best lines. I love the moment when he talks about drinking his own pee. And then there is Danny McBride. This is one train that I have not been able to get on. I’ve always thought he looks like he smells like armpits. He’s fucking gross. But….. in this movie, he steals many scenes. And I am very thankful he has decided to wear sleeves in this movie. THANK YOU! But seriously, he has some great moments here, and definitely is the actor to go into the darkest places with his character. His entrance is pretty great too.
The movie is also littered with many cameos, most of which I won’t spoil for you here. Emma Watson (best known as Hermonie from HARRY POTTER) gets down and dirty with the best of them, but unfortunately most of her funniest moments were ruined in the trailers. But it’s still amusing. I hate annoying comic actor Aziz whatever-the-fuck-his-name-is, so I cheered really loud when his arms were ripped off and falls to his doom. Awesome! But for me, the best person in this, who steals the entire movie, is Michael Cera. Mostly known for being that lovable, awkward nerd in films like JUNO and SUPERBAD, here is seen snorting coke, grabbing asses and getting blown in Franco’s bathroom. I was laughing ridiculously hard every time he appeared on-screen, which was sadly not enough. I could seriously watch an entire movie based on a douchebag Michael Cera. His death scene is also fantastic, which has been spoiled in some clips online. So avoid that shit, okay?
Besides the actors poking fun at themselves and each other, this movie is just fucking nuts! Directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen really push things as far as they can go here. When it’s violent, it’s VIOLENT. People are impaled, smashed by large objects, and heads are decapitated. But it’s all very funny. One of my favorite moments involved the six friends kicking around a severed head in a hilarious panic. And then when Jonah picks it up…. his reaction is pretty priceless. This movie really goes dark, and it pretty much goes all the way. It’s definitely not a safe comedy, and that’s refreshing. There’s all sorts of monsters and flying demons roaming around that they come in contact with. The effects are actually pretty good, considering this is just a “dumb comedy”. I also liked that this is the rapture. I mean, beams of lights are actually coming down and taking people to heaven. But not Seth and his gang. They’re all assholes that don’t deserve to be saved. But at least they’re funny assholes.
The script is probably not all that tight. I have a feeling that there was a lot of improvising going on, but in this case it works in the film’s favor. These actors are clearly comfortable working with each other, and it shows. The fun definitely comes through to the audience and it’s infectious. I do think that the film loses a little steam around the halfway point. It gets a bit claustrophobic when they’re stuck in Franco’s house for most of the film. The pacing gets a little sluggish in the second act. But the last act has some surprises. It definitely takes the film to another level when they leave Franco’s house. And the ending. It’s brave, bold, and absolutely hilarious. I can’t picture the movie ending any other way. And even besides all the laughs, the friendship between Seth and Jay is touching at times.
I think it’s cool that Rogen got a chance to direct something. That said, the direction is probably the weakest thing in the movie. There are moments when it works, but there were other times where I found it to be a bit sloppy, especially some of the editing. But, hey, it’s a comedy right? And it succeeds there. I laughed a lot, so that counts for something, right? Now, I didn’t think the direction was bad, but if it was as inspired as the rest of the movie, I think it would have added something extra special. That said, I think Rogen and Goldberg will grow as filmmakers and have a feeling that their next film could be even better.
If you like your comedies very R-rated, then you should love this one. There’s lots of raunchy shit going on. Jokes about just every bodily function known to man can be found here, and some are visual jokes. If you get easily offended or grossed out, then you’re at the wrong movie. If you’re a fan of these actors, this is definitely a must-see. And even if you’re not, you still might get a kick out of it like I did. And if you do go see it, you should probably tell the manager of the theater to turn the movie up loud, because at the screening I was at, I had a tough time hearing some of the dialogue, because people were laughing so hard. But at least that means that the film is funny, right?
Just when I thought I was getting tired of this comedy group, they surprise me with this refreshing, dark, gross, raunchy, brave, bold satire that made me laugh hard and often. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the laughs are definitely there. ★★★ (out of ★★★★)
– Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence.
– Running time: 1hr 46min.