This Is the End Directed by: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen Cast: Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins Rating: R Release Date: June 12, 2013
PLOT: Two stoner actors (Baruchel and Rogen) must survive the apocalypse while stranded at James Franco's house, along with Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride.
WHO'S IT FOR? Fans of Rogen and/or any of the other branches of the Judd Apatow family tree know what to expect, and should come away from this one pretty satisfied.
EXPECTATIONS: Rogen & Goldberg have been associated with numerous projects I've enjoyed in the past (including Green Hornet, suck it internet!) Would this cameo-loaded comedy act as a welcome invitation to a new path for these comedians, or would it show that they are best behind their typewriters?
Jay Baruchel as Jay: Working with the least amount of recognition compared to everyone in the rest of the group, Baruchel has to make the most claim for himself, and he does. Here, he's a character who grounds this movie in its essential element that is the love of friendship. Playing an L.A. outsider who has achieved his own success but still doesn't subscribe to the Hollywood lifestyle, Baruchel turns out to be a good fit for the movie's straight man, often productively at the butt of many jokes. Score: 6
Rest of Cast: A lap around the bases for its cast members, this apocalyptic comedy celebrates the established recognition its stars have to a movie-going audience that pays money to watch them party. This Is the End tunes into the personas these actors have created for each other, but adds elements of weirdness to their character for more overt comedic reasons. Even when the film does feel like the dialogue is dictated by a script, it doesn't seem like Rogen has attempted to warp, stretch, or bend his friends all that much. Instead, it's like he told them over a weekly smoke session, "Everyone thinks you're a pretentious f**king nerd, James Franco! Heh heh heh. Let's run with that." Still, the script's handling of these characters is continually worth a good laugh, while simultaneously making the charm of this movie more than just its star power. Score: 7
TALKING: Right from the film's first line, ("Hey there, Seth Rogen,") the movie begins an open chat amongst itself. In a manner that continues throughout the movie, audience members are invited to listen in on these celebrities busting each other's balls while name-dropping numerous projects or having an experience amongst themselves. To keep viewers in check with who's who, a lot of these "characters" seem to address each other by their full names, treating each other like how we see them, despite being in a casual setting. As for the movie's jokes, much of the humor certainly still hopes that the shocking crudeness of the d*ck joke hasn't gone limp. In order to push said shock comedy factor, This Is the End takes a disagreeable venture toward rape joke territory, which doesn't make for light bro jokes but ugly, desperate, and slow moments. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Not slacking on that whole apocalypse thing, This Is the End is dressed up well with hellish special effects and large demons, albeit given the Goldberg & Rogen treatment. In terms of the movie's overall pacing, This Is the End feels longer than its running time indicates, especially with an extended dance sequence at the end that loses its entertaining sense of nuttiness halfway before its over. The movie's funnier scenes often tend to be ones that don't entirely rely on celebrity recognition, but universal survival wackiness. A moment that celebrates the luxury of water is one of the film's more creative bits of comedy. Score: 6
SOUNDS: Always keeping an ear out for a joke, the soundtrack for This is the End features usual staples for Rogen & Goldberg comedies, including hip hop music (as accompanied by slow motion). In this same manner of irony, "Backstreet's Back" by the Backstreet Boys is used prominently twice in the film, in an ushering into the state of retro that I don't feel comfortable accepting (but I guess the kids these days think BSB is nostalgia?). The soundtrack's most interesting addition, aside from the score that rightly uses choirs to evoke the flames of hell, is the usage of "Gangnam Style," surprisingly unseen in previous comedies, and certainly not in the manner that it is applied in this film. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: This Is the End provides the most of its Apocalypse Hollywood charm during the segment that begins as a cool kid party at James Franco's, but then ends up as a sinkhole nightmare. Though it cuts many appearances short, there's certainly something very funny about watching certain familiar faces encounter sudden and gruesome death.
ENDING: This Is the End concludes its love for friendship on a happy note, even though the final sequence feels overlong.
QUESTIONS: Did I miss JTRO from The FP, or was his cameo cut out? Did making this movie lead to even more self-awareness in its characters?
REWATCHABILITY: Like many comedies, only time will indicate whether the jokes sink in deep enough to warrant re-views and re-quoting, etc. Pineapple Express took a second viewing to get cozy, and maybe that's the case with this one as well.
The only appearance missing from this apocalypse powwow is that of Judd Apatow, who if he had been in this movie, wouldn't have played any party-goer, but a god. With whatever talent Goldberg & Rogen brought to this land they are still partying at, it is the guidance they've received from working on various Apatow projects that seems to have directly shaped their own expression, honing in their love of drug, dick, or "F**k!" jokes, and finding some type of universal element that usually isn't discussed with such fratty humor.
Apatow's mind for storytelling is certainly at the heart of this story. At its core, This Is the End becomes a loving ode to the element that has given schlubs like Rogen worldwide recognition, while allotting him to act like himself amongst a business of phonies, that of creativity-inspiring friendship. Rogen's first hosted movie party celebrates the collaboration he has with his friends, whether they're working from a script or not. Thus, the film's best scene aside from the apocalyptic chaos in the first act, and one that gets to the heart of this script, features a "Sweded" trailer for "Pineapple Express 2." It is not so much a self-homage to Goldberg & Rogen's own movie, but instead a declaration of the creativity that drives these friends, and the love for storytelling that separates these Hollywood freaks and geeks from just any other stoners.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10