'This Is The End' Movie Review: Who Knew The Apocalypse Could Be Fun?
This Is the End, starring Seth Rogen and a host of his friends playing caricatures of themselves, is a smart and self-aware post-apocalyptic stoner comedy soaked in crude, sexual humor. The movie manages this low-brow subject matter with a tight and totally fun script, the latter of which is no small feat considering "fun" has somehow managed to become not only watered-down in the summer movie season, but worse, a crutch wasted as a weak defense for sloppy movies with inflated budgets, thin scripts and mailed-in performances. But a movie like This Is The End is a suprising reminder that fun is the product of work.
The key to This Is the End is that it puts in the work early. Jay Baruchel arrives at the Los Angeles airport where his good friend, Rogen, is there to pick him up. We don’t know it yet, but there relationship has become strained in part because of Rogen’s recent success out in L.A., and also because of Baruchel’s resistance to put up with the L.A. lifestyle. In fact, Baruchel hates L.A., more specifically the actors that make up its culture, in particular Rogen’s new friends James Franco, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson. So it’s no surprise that Baruchel bristles at Rogen’s insistence that the two attend a party at Franco’s house. But they do, and the groundwork’s been set. When they arrive at the party, Baruchel plays the straight man to everyone else’s worst selves—Franco is painfully pretentious, Hill insincere and Rogen spineless.
Franco’s party is stashed with plenty of other celebrities all openly poking fun at themselves: a sarcastic Kevin Hart pays his respects to Jason Segel's forumlaic sitcom humor, while Mindy Kaling fawns over a coked-out Michael Cera. But the key is Baruchel, and his insecurities are firmly established by the time fire rains down on Los Angeles and a strange crater opens up outside of Franco’s yard—sucking down many of the celebrity cameos with it—so that we're sufficiently invested in the tense dynamic among the remaining survivors.
This Is the End cuts the party scene too short, which robs the movie of some of its light-heartedness, but even this snag is a worthy sacrifice for the sake of progressing the narrative.
It also opens the door for a memorable entrance by Danny McBride, who, having passed out the night before, emerges sweat-stained and burnt out from Franco's bathtub and proceeds to cook all of the food in the house without any knowledge that an apocalypse has even happened. From there, each of the celebrities play off one another wonderfully, taking jabs at their respective flaws (“Seth, that’s a better performance than you’ve given in your last six movies,” McBride teases Rogen. “Where the fuck was that in The Green Hornet?”) and killing time by fighting over how to split a Milky Way bar six ways and making a homemade sequel to Pineapple Express.
Even if it takes a little too long to wrap up—the second half starts to drag as the mystery behind the apocalypse unfolds—ultimately, This Is The End doesn’t just make out as one of the summer’s funniest movie thus far, but arguably its best.
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