This Is The End
RIP my sides
If you left the theater for This Is The End with any complaints about acting, cinematography, lighting, or any other technical aspects of film, you watched it wrong. Directed, written, and produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film brings Rogen together with many of his past costars and basks in their own outlandish corner of the comedic universe. At its roots the movie is nothing more than a group of friends (who happen to be famous comedians) who one day decided it would be a good idea to come together to film a 106 minute-long inside joke. Luckily, they’re all beguilingly hysterical enough to, in their own specific charm, sell the film to almost anyone with the least amount of appreciation for humor.
The film’s “story” would be just okay had it been approached conventionally. Instead the actors play overdramatized versions of themselves, a simple twist that made the film as entertaining as it is. Jay Baruchel (who’s a real living actor I guess) visits his BFF Seth Rogen in Los Angeles, his least favorite place on the planet. Jay is one of those hipsters who think hating on LA is cool, but Seth Rogen forces him to attend a mansion-opening celebrity party hosted by his other BFF and common costar James Franco.
Later at the party the rapture mentioned in the bible happens. A massive sinkhole leading straight to the center of the earth opens in Franco’s new yard, claiming Michael Cera and a handful of other unfortunately positioned celebrities (that’s not a spoiler, right?). The only six survivors (the three aforementioned actors plus Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride, played by Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Helena Bonham Carter respectively) take refuge in Franco’s indestructible mansion while the rest of LA falls into chaos. Partially documented by the handheld camera from Franco’s 127 Hours (he hoards props from all of his movies, obviously) the actors’ survival story hilariously goes wrong in every possible venue.
This is about the tenth time the core cast has collaborated on a project together, so of course they have an infectious chemistry with each other. Hill in particular has a certain ability to make everything he does funny, whether he’s trying or not. McBride loves being a terrible person playing a terrible person, and that’s exactly what he does here, though perhaps with stakes raised higher than usual. Rogen and Franco (whose careers together extend back to a television show they were on as teenagers) are a formidable comedic duo. Straight faces stand no chance of survival against them. (The movie features a built-in sequel to Pineapple Express, starring these two, in case you were wondering what happens next to your favorite characters from that movie!)
Also commendable is the large array of celebrities who agreed to portray themselves violently dying within the film’s first 20 minutes. Emma Watson’s (Hermione Granger from Harry Potter) somewhat brief but memorable appearance was the most prominent among the ensemble celebrities. My one pre-viewing expectation was for the film to not corrupt my childhood heroine Hermione for me, which it didn’t (we all knew Hermione had a bad potty mouth already, anyway).
Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Rihanna(?), Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, and a boatload of other funny people made fun of themselves and then fell into a massive sinkhole, but none came close to Michael Cera’s unhinged appearance. Before this movie I pictured the worst thing Cera possibly doing is taking a shot of sparkling apple cider then going night swimming with his shirt on. This movie was game changing for my perception of him. He evolved into the pimped out self-parody we never dared dream he’d become. It was transcendent.
The film’s most exquisite moments are best left unspoiled. This Is The End is Seth Rogen and many other comedians at the best they’ve been in years. I don’t want to spoil any more of the movie’s jokes, so this is the, uh, what’s the word… conclusion.