Thursday, February 20, 2014

This is the End - 2013

"This is the End" - 2013
Dir. by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg - 1 hr. 47 min.

Red Band Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

"This is the End" is the movie to see if you want to see Seth Rogen freaking out and saying "oh fuck" over and over again.  This is your jam!  Or, if you'd like to see any number of the Class of 2004 from Hollywood all in one film.  To be sure, there is more to "This is the End" than just that, but those are probably the only two guaranteed things are sure to guarantee your enjoyment.  It's better to look at this film as being a Christmas present that the stars of this film have sent to their fan club members, a sort of thank-you for having been along for the ride.

Jay (Baruchel - this is a movie where everyone is playing "themselves," or at least playing off their image) arrives at the airport in Los Angeles, where he's picked up by his friend, Seth (Rogen).  They indulge in some vintage Rogen relaxation techniques before Seth gets Jay to begrudgingly agree to go to a Big Hollywood Party at James Franco's place.  Seth fits in, but Jay has a chip on his shoulder, which becomes a problem when all Hell breaks loose!!!  I mean that literally; the rapture has come, the pious ascend to Heaven in a beam of blue light, and the Earth opens up to swallow the sinners.  When things calm down a bit, five men are left standing in James Franco's house: James, Jay, Seth, Craig (Robinson), and Jonah (Hill).  After the required freak-out session, they all go to sleep, and wake up to find that Danny (McBride) has shown up, and has cooked all of their supplies into a giant breakfast feast.  Let the squabbling commence!!!

There are two big "ifs" as to whether you're likely to enjoy "This is the End," and that's even before we get to the content of it.  Firstly, at least part of the humor of the film relies upon some knowledge of exactly who the actors are, in the first place.  If you don't care who Michael Cera is, for instance, you might still laugh at his actions, but you're not really getting the joke.  If you're someone who's been watching this loose cabal of actors since "The 40 Year-Old Virgin," you'll get a lot more out of it.  Secondly, there's the issue of whether or not you're willing to engage with something as utterly meta as a bunch of actors trying to play off of their public personae.  Insider Hollywood movies aren't anything new, but it's a genre that requires a lot of useless knowledge, and might be off-putting to some.  So be warned.

But if you're into all of that, there's some good times to be had.  A lot of the movie feels ad-libbed, and as such, there are a lot of great throwaway lines.  Also, considering the cast, it's inevitable that they would reference earlier work (and not just jokes about "Your Highness"), and this film contains a "sequel" to one of this cast's earlier films that had me rolling in laughter.  That was easily the highlight of the film, along with a shouting match between Danny McBride and James Franco.  And, this film is the land of one million cameos, which is fun in it's own right.  On the other hand, if you don't enjoy a film with admittedly funny actors bickering with one other, or aren't as amused by the idea of having an anatomically-correct fifty-foot tall demon as Seth Rogen seemed to be during his talk show appearance for this film, some of the material is going to fall flat.

I'm not going to pretend that I didn't laugh all the way through "This is the End," or that there weren't at least a couple of parts that absolutely killed me.  But "This is the End" simply isn't as sharp as any member of the cast's best work.  There are moments, there are "wouldn't it be funny to see ___" bits all over the place (shout out to Channing Tatum for the king of those), and the cast combined with the premise was enough to make me want to see "This is the End" in the first place, but it didn't prove to be enough to result in a great (or even very good) film.  So, if you're a fan of this batch of actors, enjoy this the way you'd enjoy a b-sides album by one of your favorite bands.  You know there's a reason these ideas weren't included before, but there are still a few nuggets of gold to be found if you search a little bit.

2 / 5 - TV (HD)

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