Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg Writer: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride Running Time: 107 Minutes Year: 2013
Hollywood’s giant bulge over the apocalypse is showing no sign of…diminishing. In another trend which has set cinema alight, the end of the world is bizarrely, rather a hot ticket to guaranteeing an audience. Yes, we’re all gagging to see our demise played out in Technicolour. Many times.
This Is The End has arrived to rescue us from derivative shonk like Rapture-Palooza (even the excellent Anna Kendrick couldn’t save that one) and stony-faced seriousness like Oblivion and World War Z. A cast so starry it’s a little blinding, it turns the end of the world into a neverending sleepover with best friends that doesn’t look like a bad way to go! Sure, the end is nigh, but that only serves as a reason for a series of endless knob gags, drug binges and bitchy squabbles.
What sets This Is The End apart from other apocalypse fodder, is its loyalty to wringing out the humour in every explosive, repugnant scenario. You’d be pushed to second-guess where the next joke is coming from because its story is too damn weird to allow for easy foreshadowing. The source of its meta-com vibe establishes the opening twenty minutes; in case you’re not sure who Seth Rogen is, you will after he collects his buddy Jay Baruchel from the airport only to be followed by paparazzi.
With all the cast playing amplified, stupified versions of themselves, it’s a skewed look into their showbizzy lives. Rogen essentially is the same as his onscreen history dictates; lovable, friendly and quippy. As he and Jay head over to James Franco’s house for a party the recognisable faces from the best of recent comedy all pop up in a series of cameos. There’s nary a celeb in sight who doesn’t have the piss ripped out of them or offer scathing backstabbery towards another.
All this mockery slots in alongside the apocalyptic storyline to brilliant effect. Marrying a self-aware fun-poking theme with the burgeoning end of civilisation is a sterling premise. For a comedy you’d expect the weight to rest solely on the film’s jokes, but it finds a working balance between gags and action. The setpieces easily rival any other big budget flick, with demons and ghoulies thrashing about the burning Hollywood hills with their giant genitals swinging about like grotesque pendulums.
Of course, the real stars here are the core of actors who look like they’re just having a massive hangout with an effects budget. Franco’s host with the most plays up his bromance with Rogen like a possessive girlfriend, dallying between charming rogue and selfish oaf. Jonah Hill’s limp-wristed simulacrum minces about in the background eventually snagging some of the stand out line deliveries in the latter half.
“Marrying a self-aware fun-poking theme with the burgeoning end of civilisation is a sterling premise. For a comedy you’d expect the weight to rest solely on the film’s jokes, but it finds a working balance between gags and action.”
Craig Robinson’s big bear persona has infinitely better material to work from than he did for his role in Rapture-Palooza. Danny McBride fills the movie’s “bad guy” quota up with high class creepy douchebaggery. Stealing the show with his candid opinions of the rest of the group, he fires off round after round of bitingly piss-your-pants funny one liners. Carrying us through the story is likeable everyman, Baruchel, who isn’t pigeonholed into simply being “the nice guy” – he too gets his fair share of one liners. In fact, all of the leads bring out the funny together, riffing off each other as the five struggle to deal with their rations and how to deal with the arrival of Emma Watson. The latter is one of the film’s highlights, with everyone throwing in their two cents as the dialogue spirals further into the realms of the un-PC.
This is where the film could lose some viewers, as its insistence on a stream of masturbation, poop and druggy banter never falters. This kind of humour works because of its cast who deliver every morsel with originality and a pure love for making each other laugh.
This Is The End is a crass and witty jaunt crammed full of some of the best comedians working in Hollywood. It’s a damn entertaining flick, which is far better than most anticipated. And there’s a real treat in the film’s glorious centre for fans of Pineapple Express.
Don’t see World War Z, go and have a 107 minute belly laugh with the guys.