Movie Review: This is the End- This Chaotic Apocalyptic Fantasy Triumphs in Vulgar Laughs and Whimsical Twists on Personalities Despite Being a Tad Pretentious

1170481 - This Is The EndIt doesn’t really seem like an odd question when you think about it but have you ever had a daydream fantasy of imagining what it would be like to experience the devastation of the apocalypse, either of religious origin, zombie led, or alien controlled, with all of your closest friends right beside you? Well it seems co-writers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg who have written everything together from the good (Superbad), the bad (The Green Hornet), and the ugly (The Watch) have envisioned such a scenario in their newest comedy This is the End, which also sees the two screenwriters sharing the directing chair to control their apocalyptic fantasy as it unfolds in all of its crudity, chaos, and humorous twists on celebrity personalities. And surprisingly this rabidly tongue in cheek, incessantly crass, and occasionally uneven farce, which initially seems like it’s the most inside of inside jokes, ends up being a rather enjoyable and demented excursion into the hellish depths of two developing comedic minds. Based on a short film entitled “Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse,” written by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogan, and its director Jason Stone, the film expands the earlier concept into a far more enjoyable, cameo filled fantasy ride where jokes are hurled frantically and hilarious violent deaths are chosen carefully. Not everything works throughout This is the End but it’s a script that’s filled to the brim with enough clever jokes, whimsical references, and biting social commentary to outweigh the occasional sense of pretentiousness and self-congratulatory trumpeting of its smug Hollywood private party. It seems the writing team of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg has found an inventive delivery to test the limits of their comedic vulgarity while also giving a swiftly refreshing breath of fresh air to the premise that gives us a unique combination of critical self-parody and humorously grotesque comedy. Taking the Apatovian usual suspects and placing them in the chaos of the apocalypse was clever enough but adding in rapid fire dialogue, clever twists on known and unknown personalities, and a comedic energy not seen in many disappointing comedies of our modern years certainly makes This is the End worth risking for more than a few laughs. When comedy becomes expected it ends up losing its necessary impact but that isn’t the case for Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut as they allow the uninhibited lunacy of their characters loose throughout their post-apocalyptic fantasy world that will inevitably surprise you in its humorous risks and solid comedic delivery.

The self-parody begins almost immediately as This is the End sets up a fairly typical bromance between Seth Rogan and longtime Canadian friend Jay Baruchel, which has been the defining genre that has followed this particular group of actors for almost a decade. Though the initial setup has an uphill battle in relationship exposition, either in giving us Jay’s distaste for Jonah Hill or James Franco’s self-involved personality, eventually everything becomes clear and the chemistry from the performances aids in fleshing out the details in either the personal grievances or character flaws of each celebrity. All of the characters meet at James Franco’s house party where there are clever cameos involving the likes of Rihanna, Aziz Ansari, and the show stealing performance from Michael Cera as the antithesis of his seemingly innocent demeanor. Eventually the party and all of Earth is disrupted by the apocalypse of unknown origin (at first) killing numerous celebrities and inevitably leaves Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Craig Robertson alone under the same roof attempting to survive the apocalypse. Once they’re joined by the obnoxiously hilarious Danny McBride who practically wastes all of their food and water in one selfish sitting then the real hilarity begins as the core of the film is based on this motley crew of six trying to survive together and survive each other. Most of the characters, though based on the actual people portraying them, are written well by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg who not only know exactly how to properly amplify their core group of friend’s personalities for a delightfully fictional approach but also seem to know just how they would react in the face of death and survival complications. Setting up fake hatreds between characters either between Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel or James Franco and Danny McBride provides a great deal of entertainment and it’s a refreshing take on the cordial expectation that this entire group actually likes each other. This is the End finds strength in its manipulation of celebrity personalities because through this clever device they are able to provide hilarious dialogue exchanges, which includes an uproarious argument on semen etiquette, and social commentary on the privileged status on celebrities. Perhaps not all of the written scenarios work, especially a fairly dated comedic blended homage to Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but each scene is overwhelmingly full of jokes that it’s difficult not to laugh as the barrage of quips, vulgarity, and references is relentless in its energy and shameless in its hilarity.

Seth Rogen;Jay Baruchel;Jonah Hill

As first time directors it’s easy to get caught up in the rawness of your written material joke wise making it difficult to keep the narrative focused throughout the continuously hectic setups for joke after joke, which is one of the root problems in This is the End that makes it so uneven. Narratively the film isn’t exactly strong beyond its clever premise involving soft, pampered celebrities facing the dire situations in the apocalypse because most of the development is fairly standard and expected based on the familiar relationship exposition from early on in the film. Another issue first time directors face is the idea of longevity and even though it’s nice to see the two writers attempt at elongating their private Hollywood party and the hilarity involved as long as possible it becomes a tad draining. However, the intention of the film isn’t necessarily aimed at breaking new comedic ground but instead takes the typical bromance and makes sure it’s soul focus is to deliver laughs, which it does on numerous occasions and with a dash of wittiness that’s hard to come by in most modern comedy films. Comedy is based on timing, energy, and confident delivery and This is the End is one of those rare modern day comedies that embraces its crassness in confident ways carefully bringing the audience deep inside of an inside joke. Both Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg are in the directing chairs and their familiarity with writing comedy as well as being involved in the process of delivering comedy certainly helps the entire production keep a lighthearted atmosphere amidst an apocalyptically dirty environment. And despite the aggressiveness of the comedy, either in its vulgar bodily fluids references or mocking of Judeo-Christian values and text, there isn’t really a sense of bitterness towards its chosen satire targets, especially since a majority of the farce is directed within at the very people who have created this particular comedy. This is the End might be one of those gimmicky comedies but it surprisingly works with all of its nastiness, unlikable situations, and crude outcomes mostly due to Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg who allow their cast of eccentrics to unfasten their funniest and darkest sides.

One of the clever aspects that This is the End plays on is the use of celebrity and seeing the entire chosen cast members take their perceived public images and manipulate them for either comedic effect or take it to the extreme. It’s probably fairly easy to play oneself in a fictitious situation but everyone from Seth Rogan to James Franco all animate their personalities for comedic effect giving a humorous but equally naturalistic environment of privileged celebrities interacting selfishly during the apocalypse. This tightly knit ensemble cast have all worked together before and this is probably one of their finest interactions of comic chemistry allowing them to insult each other based on public perception, inside knowledge of themselves, and a willingness to be mocked. Both Seth Rogan and Jay Baruchel play the straight stoner men in the film where everyone else has more animated personalities and they do it well playing off each other with verbal games but also reacting judgmentally towards their more chaotic counterparts. Franco takes his privileged, overeducated, and selfish persona to an exaggerated level that inevitably takes him to an appropriately hilarious end where his pettiness outshines his moment of salvation. Not every performance provides ample laughs because it seems Jonah Hill and Craig Robertson were given roles that provided launching points for jokes instead of given a great deal of verbal cleverness or slapstick inventiveness of their own, which doesn’t mean they’re bad in the film just somewhat underutilized. Two showstoppers though would be both Danny McBride as the unwanted house guest basically playing all of the characters he’s played from “Eastbound & Down” to The Foot Fist Way as himself and Michael Cera in a brief cameo stunt that will have you seeing him in a completely different light. When you see the reunion of the Superbad three and Michael Cera is the obnoxious one then you know some hilarious situations are going to unfold, such as Cera blowing cocaine in the face of Christopher Mintz-Plasse. If it weren’t for the entire cast being willing to portray incredibly unlikable versions of their actual selves then This is the End wouldn’t have worked in delivery because most of the comedy is based on their animated personalities and manipulations of their public image allowing the more fictitious reality to become the more hilarious one.

this is the end 1

If there is one accomplishment that Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg can embrace in their latest comedy This is the End it’s that they have successfully found an outlet for unleashing their brand of crude humor, which was a type of comedy that was drifting towards repetitive obscurity. Cleverly putting themselves and their celebrity posse into a fantasy apocalyptic reality allowed the familiar vulgar territory to seem rather refreshing especially with the exaggerated perceptions on the character’s personas, the biting social commentary on Hollywood culture and the biblical apocalypse, and inventive ways of utilizing bodily fluid references and rape jokes. This is the End might feel a tad uneven with its pacing and definitely overstays its welcome in the longevity department but it’s hard not to enjoy a film that has strategically placed a plethora of jokes within each scene that it’s hard to catch every single one of them. The chaotic energy is a favorable aspect keeping the audience engaged and entertained but it also strains the narrative which shows drastic weaknesses in its familiar relationship setups and overplayed bromance genre elements. However, the positive qualities of the film greatly outweigh the negative qualities because co-writers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg have found the right balance between gut-busting hilarity, grotesque situations, and satiric criticism making This is the End an odd but surprisingly captivating comedy to experience.

Grade: B-

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