Movie Review: This Is The End
Director: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Reviewed: 17 June 2013
It's the end of the world as they know it, and this group of friends feels fine because it ends at James Franco's house, and they are together. I measure a comedy by how much I laugh, and I laughed quite a bit at the clever, small film "This Is The End" by directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The film stars a young generation of comedic actors in a virtual "Oceans 11" of talent. The format of the film is essentially one long sketch, stretched out to a feature length, but it works because of its sending up of its actor's personas, anarchic sense of fun, and inventive references.
Jay Baruchel returns to Los Angeles to visit friend Seth Rogen after a long absence. They find themselves at Franco's self-designed home in Hollywood, flanked by Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Craig Robinson, among other celebrities. A chance stepping out for a pack of cigarettes reveals the onslaught of earthquakes and sinkholes, beams of blue light, and a possible apocalypse. After gleefully dispatching dozens of celebrities, chaos ensues as the small band of friends hunkers down in Franco's house, sends up nearly every conventional of the disaster genre, and tries to survive the end of the world.
What really works is the satirizing of celebrity culture with countless cameos and the stars basically riffing on their reputations. Jonah Hill plays a pretentious version of himself, while Danny McBride amps up his Kenny Powers antics. Michael Cera is skewered mercilessly in two brief scenes, and it is generally fun to play spot-the-celebrity, even when they are falling into giant holes of lava. Large portions of the film have the leads barricaded inside of Franco's house, and the confinement plays heavily into the laughter, especially in one scene where they all find themselves creeping into the basement to join Jay in a sleepover party on the floor. A lone Milky Way takes center stage as a hilarious point of contention, Craig Robinson's squeaks and squeals delight, and Danny McBride nearly steals the movie multiple times with his obscene tirades.
There are genuine jumps and scares, though I wonder if the film needed the effects-heavy third act. I suppose it needed to end somehow, but I enjoyed it more when it was these smart, funny actors trapped in a room. The central friendship between Rogen and Baruchel hits its obligatory rough patches and redemption in clunky fashion. However, for the surprise factor and the genuine laughs created, "This Is The End" is worth watching. It throws in a bit of religious pondering and a fun final scene. I recommend seeing it.