I would say the past 12 or so months has been pretty terrible when it comes to quality comedy films. The Hangover: Part III was a dud. Movie 43 was a piece of shit. This is 40 was a disappointment. Ted was way to overhyped. Hell, I haven’t seen a comedy I’ve REALLY loved since 21 Jump Street…and that was in March 2012. By this point, it’s pretty evident that Hollywood needed a comedic savior. And thankfully, This is the End isn’t just that—it may also be one of the craziest, strangest, and gosh darn daring studio films I’ve ever seen.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been anticipating This Is The End since literally the first time I ever heard about it. The short its based on, Jay and Seth Vs. The Apocalypse, was quite funny (or at least the publicly released trailer was), and the cast that This is the End managed to assemble is simply outstanding. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Emma Watson, Aziz Anzari, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Kevin Hart, Rihanna, Martin Starr—it’s insane, really.
And really, insane is the perfect word to describe this film. Let me say this—this movie is far more than what you probably think it is. The set-up is simple enough—James Franco is throwing a party for all of his celebrity friends to celebrate the purchase of his new home, and then the apocalypse comes a knocking. Seeking refuge after the disaster, the remaining celebrities (Rogen, Franco, Robinson, Hill, and Baruchel) hole up in Franco’s home trying to survive the best they can. But it isn’t too long until things get crazy—really, REALLY crazy.
But thankfully, this level of insanity really helps the film along, especially towards the beginning of the third act. Things stared to get so nuts that I began to question just how Rogen and his co-writing/co-directing partner Evan Goldberg got away with it. But thank god they did, because This is the End is a much funnier film simply because you never really know what to expect from it…and the odd places that it eventually goes to become even more special.
Clearly This is the End is a hilarious film—with a cast like this, I feel like that goes without saying. From the opening scene onward I was laughing uproariously, and so was my audience. Comedies really live or die from audience reactions, and mine at least seemed to have a freaking blast with it. And for good reason too. Whether you’re a fan of apocalyptic comedy, self-aware Hollywood satire, or the tried and true raunchy humor that the Apatow crew so excels at, there’s something for everyone in This is the End. I had a blast, and I can’t see anyone not enjoying themselves with this film.
But This is the End isn’t just a great comedy—in fact, the most surprising aspect of the film is just how great a film it is in its own right. The script is surprisingly sweet, and similar to the Goldberg and Rogen scripted Superbad, deals with themes of male friendship in ways few other comedies do. But what really helped This is the End along was a surprisingly fantastic direction. This is Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut, but like Edgar Wright with Shaun of the Dead, you wouldn’t be able to tell.
Which I guess is a good a place as any to bring up that film, since This is the End is basically an Americanized Shaun of the Dead, trading in British dry humor with America’s raunchy, shock driven one. But in no way is that comparison a detriment to the film. I honestly felt like This is the End shares a lot of positive qualities with that film, and both work wonders for similar reasons. Just like Shaun, This is the End does a great job of being more than a mockery of its genre—Shawn of the Dead is a legitimately great zombie film, and This is the End is a legitimately great apocalypse film. The creature designs in This is the End especially were impressive, and there’s some action beats here that can rival anything from a much more serious action film.
Sticking with the Edgar Wright thread, I’m really curious to see how This is the End will compare to this August’s The World’s End, which is another apocalyptic comedy with a stellar cast. Even though I’m confident that film will be amazing, I would not be surprised if I end up loving This is the End just a tad bit more. A few months ago that mere notion was unfathomable, but what can I say? This is the End impressed me far more than I ever expected it to.
The wild ride isn’t a completely flawless one, however. Even though I loved the boldness of the third act, some of the morality and thematic issues really start to lose themselves as Rogen and Goldberg struggle to find away to tie everything together. The story is ultimately about the relationship between Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, and even towards the end I was kind of confused at what Rogen and Goldberg were trying to say about that core friendship (or for that matter, themselves). To be fair though, I would argue Shaun of the Dead had the same problems with its ending, but that’s an argument for another day.
Morally, the film is even more troubling—saying why is too much of a spoiler, but let’s just say that the characters never really earn the endings they get and leave it at that. Also, despite the incredibly impressive design, the film suffers a bit from a relatively low budget of $32 million. Things look consistently good, but some of the CGI is simply so-so.
Still, these quibbles aside, I pretty much loved This is the End. I simply had a blast watching it and, as an example to the directing skills of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, it’s pretty damn promising. I can’t wait to see what the pair will tackle next. Their Korean assassination pic with James Franco seems the most likely at this point, but who knows really. Whatever the case, I’ll follow them in whatever direction they go. If This is the End is any indication, it’s worth the trip.
- The advertising doesn’t really indicate it, but Jay Baruchel is essentially the lead of the film, which is nice. He’s a hilarious actor who deserves the level of fame that Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan have attained.
- Speaking of underappreciated actors, Craig Robinson is also wonderful in this. Hopefully this role will finally give him roles outside of Tyler Perry’s Peebles.
- Michael Cera shines in a role so different from his usual schtick, and every moment he’s on screen is wonderful. In fact, my only complaint with his “character” is how little of the film he was in.
- Which is also the case for Paul Rudd and, to a certain extent, Jason Segel. But I guess when you have a film with so many funny people, some people are bound to be underutilized. But seriously, having Paul Rudd pop up for literally five seconds HAS to be a crime, right?
- A lot has been said about Danny McBride’s entrance in the film, and it truly is terrific. Only further proof that Rogen and Goldberg are surprisingly great directors.
- Even though I didn’t love how the film got there, I will admit that the last scene of This is the End is wonderfully bizarre and a perfect cap for such a great experience.