“What just happened?” I think that was my immediate reaction after seeing This Is The End.
When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I kind of had a feeling that I’d be walking out of the theater saying, “Uh, what?” I mean, we’ve seen the apocalypse concept before, but this movie just looked absolutely ridiculous. And when a movie looks ridiculous, there are only two options for its outcome—either it’ll be really funny or really lame. Now having seen it, I feel like I almost don’t know how to describe it. It’s a comedy, yes, but there’s a lot going on. Cameos, violence, Hollywood satire, CGI penises, biblical references. It’s very WTF when you sit back and think about it. Surprisingly, it’s funny as hell. Discuss? Of course!
Here’s how Sony describes the plot: “The comedy This Is The End follows six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption.”
This Is The End, directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, is based on a short “Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse,” which I’ve never seen, so I can’t make any comparisons, but I believe it has a similar premise. The story is pretty simple to comprehend from the trailer alone. Jay Baruchel visits his friend, Seth Rogen. The two have grown apart ever since Rogen started hanging out with his “Los Angeles friends,” consisting of James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Ferguson (At one point, I felt like this was almost too intimate a look inside their friendship, but then I remembered that these guys are comedians to the core). Rogen eventually talks Baruchel into going to a party at James Franco’s new house, where they hang out with the aforementioned “Los Angeles friends” and other celebrities. And then the world goes to all hell—rapture-style—with all of the good people being sucked up to Heaven while the people left behind are subjected to death, destruction, and Satan’s massive dick.
Now, the movie breaks standard plot format by having its actors play themselves in a fictitious story, and quite frankly, this works really well. Not only do the actors have the chance to emphasize their funny group dynamic, but they also get to poke fun at themselves by hyperbolizing the very characteristics that some people hate about them. For example, James Franco acts like an artistic douchebag who surrounds himself with mementos of his work. Also, by having the actors act like caricatures of themselves, it makes them seem down-to-earth and so much more self-aware (Take notes, Gwyneth Paltrow). Like I would much rather watch Seth Rogen play himself than pretend to be a character who’s really just another version of Seth Rogen. Know what I mean?
Any way, the heart of This Is The End is the bromance between Baruchel and Rogen. And you can’t go wrong with bromance. I was very impressed with how the writers stuck with this story, too, considering how many various subplots and comedic devices were sprinkled around it (especially because comedy writers are notorious for losing their message halfway through the movie). I think the reason why the tender moments between Baruchel and Rogen work so nicely is because they’re realistic in a movie that is clearly meant to be ridiculous. Essentially, it balances the crazy shitstorm that is the rest of the movie, making it a well-rounded comedy.
Some of my favorite sequences would have to be the “gluten” discussion between Baruchel and Rogen; the low-budget, home video trailer of Pineapple Express 2 (because awesome); and the corny Exorcism gag, which the group performs on a possessed Jonah Hill. But I think the winning scene was the awkward “Let’s not come off rapey” conversation the group has outside of the room where Emma Watson is trying to sleep (and then she beats the hell out of them, even though it was a HUGE misunderstanding). Oh, and any scene with Danny McBride.
I didn’t expect to be hit over the head with so much religion in this movie, but there it was. I mean, it wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, it had a nice message without being too preachy (I love that). But it was surprising from this group, you know? Any way, Baruchel is the only person who has actually read the bible, so he knows what’s going on when the world starts going to all hell. Of course, the end game is that the group has to atone for being such terrible people; but since they’re actors, they can’t understand what they’ve done wrong (*cough* Hollywood).
Craig Robinson gets it right away, sacrificing himself to save the others. And BOOM. Sent to Heaven. When Franco, Rogen, and Baruchel are about to get eaten by cannibals led by Danny McBride (because of course), Franco stays behind, allowing Baruchel and Rogen to get away. And BOOM. Almost sent to Heaven, except he flips off McBride and God’s like, “Yeah. Screw that. You stay behind, you gloating asshole.” (Okay, God doesn’t actually say anything ever, but you get it). Baruchel and Rogen get into Heaven after they finally make up and stop being such shitty friends to each other, which was the entire point of the movie, so the audience could rest easy. OH GOD. Actually, I take it back. The best scene wasn’t the Emma Watson scene. It was the movie’s ending (and the reason why I said “What just happened?”). I refuse to spoil it entirely for you because it’s just that good, but here’s a hint: boy band + cast dance sequence. You’re welcome, America.
If anything, you must see this movie just for the hilarious cameos. Basically, any celebrity who’s ever been friends with the “Pot Pack” (You know, like the Rat Pack, Brat Pack, or Frat Pack, but with the Hollywood potheads) has a cameo in this movie. Hence the appearances by Jason Segel, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kevin Hart, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum (This one’s the best, I promise), Martin Starr, all of whom get ample amounts of time onscreen. And just so you know, after seeing this movie, you’ll never look at Michael Cera the same way again. The illusion is completely shattered.
Overall, This Is The End is as ridiculous as you imagined it would be, but it also has a lot of heart. At its foundation, it’s a story about two friends reuniting. And that story just happens to be one of the wackiest rides through the apocalypse ever. Danny McBride, as usual, is a scene-stealer and gets the best lines, though the writers did a great job balancing out their cameo actors’ screen time, as well as the main group’s comedic dynamic. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes Hollywood’s “Pot Pack” or anyone who appreciates a good comedy. This Is The End might look dumb, but it knows it’s dumb, and it embraces that with so much laughter.