Hello g33ks, m33ks and anyone who can stop drop and open up shop alone. This Is The End is an all-star blockbuster comedy written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pinapple Express) based off of a short film they wrote in 2007 with Jason Stone called Jay & Seth vs. The Apocalypse. Like that 2007 short, the film stars Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Superbad) but this piece adds an unbelievable collection of A-List stars: James Franco (Oz The Great and Powerful, Pineapple Express), Jonah Hill (Moneyball, 21 Jump Street), Craig Robinson (Zack & Miri Make A Porno, Hot Tub Time Machine), Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Superbad), and Emma Watson (Harry Potter, The Bling Ring) are but a few of the recognizable faces that appear in this film.
This is one of those films so full of talent that it’s bit players could be the stars of their own major films or television shows. In fact, in nearly every case they already are. That does not mean that this film is a lock to be a runaway hit. This is the first film directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; and with this level of cast and special effects no amount of friendships and good intentions will make up for letting the film go off the rails. Were these two best friends able to corral their buddies and create a superstar summer comedy or did they spend too much time making inside jokes and forget to make a quality film as occurred with Ocean’s 12?
This Is The End has taken a strange journey to the screen. It began life as an 8 minute short film slacker comedy with Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen barricaded in an apartment during some kind of apocalypse. The film was meant to be shown on the festival circuit but all the majority of the public have seen is a clip on YouTube. In that film the guys are messy not quite yet grown ups living in squalor yet somehow surviving the end of the world. This adaptation maintains the survival/apocalyptic elements of the original but the guys are no longer two slackers living in Canada. The film begins at LAX with Seth waiting for Jay to get off his flight and take him to his house for a guys weekend of fast food, video games and smoking pot. When Seth and Jay start to leave they are set upon by a video paparazzi who shouts inane questions at them trying to get some kind of reaction from the guys who are in the midst of a reunion. This little element shows that this film is going to take an interesting through-line. Seth, Jay and everyone else who appears in the film are playing themselves, or at least exaggerated versions of themselves. With their fame, riches and misconceptions as part of the plot they take the audience into a somewhat heightened reality.
Jay hates Los Angeles and Seth’s new LA friends embody everything he loathes about life in Hollywood. Jay wants to spend all weekend at Seth’s place but Seth insists that they spend a little time at James Franco’s housewarming. Franco’s house, his guest list of A-List superstars, and even his artwork do nothing but grate on Jay’s nerves because he can’t stand that all of these people see Seth as one of them. The thing is Seth isn’t just one of the A-Listers in a lot of ways he’s their centerpoint, with people constantly looking to talk to him or take him away from Jay who just came into town to have fun with his pal. Jay convinces Seth to take him on a walk to a store to pick up some cigarettes for a reprieve and when they get into the store they experience an earthquake and see the beginnings of the end of the world. They return to the party where everyone is oblivious of what just happened but once the tremors shake the foundation of Franco’s “Fortress” the party breaks up and the fight for survival begins.
This film only works if everyone involved understands how they are seen by the people who are going to come spend money to see the flick. Jay, who is meant to be the the audience analog, is still the actor that starred in Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. He works in the part because most of the actors, even the ones who appear in the film briefly are more ‘famous’ than he is. Seth’s part in the film is as the glue for all of the other actors, which is very much how he exists to them in real life. Seth is constantly appearing in the films and tv shows of his friends, meaning that when the other characters treat him as if he’s everyone’s best friend the audience completely buys in. James Franco’s performance verges on unhinged … it’s a perfect portrayal of a man that many think is hiding things like his true sexuality from the world. Craig Robinson is the same gruff but lovable guy that steals scenes whenever he gets the chance and Jonah Hill sits back in the film and appears to be coasting along until the film reveals the true purpose for having him involved. There are other actors in the film that have major parts but to go into them too much takes away from the film.
In sheer volume of laughs I think This Is The End holds up against Superbad, Bridesmaids and The Hangover. It is an extremely funny flick that never stops trying to impress or top itself. The cast completely sells out for this film, going beyond over the top and succeeding in their attempts to make this a live action cartoon. The film also completely lives up to its R-rating; there isn’t just filthy language … There is a huge amount of blood and gore on display but even with all of the excessive violence it all seems to work. There was a legitimate fear that this film would fail due to too many cooks being in the kitchen together; but it actually manages to live up to its full potential.
– Mr. Khon