Review: 'This is The End' Definitely the Comedy Event of the Summer
by Jeremy Kirk
June 11, 2013
If This is The End is any kind of prognosticator, the end of times is going to be a hell of a good time. Another prognostication: This is The End is the comedy event of the summer, taking an inventive premise, filling it with Hollywood's biggest and brightest comedic stars - Sorry, Vince and Owen - and sticking the landing like nothing you've ever seen before. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the writing team behind Superbad and Pineapple Express, offer us a film that is awesome and hilarious, filled with laughs, thrills, genuine emotion, and a coked-out-of-his-gourd Michael Cera. Like I said: Comedy event of the summer.
The film begins with Jay Baruchel, playing Jay Baruchel, landing in Los Angeles to visit his old friend, Seth Rogen. He's played by Seth Rogen. See what we're dealing with here? Jay's idea for a relaxing weekend is to sit on Seth's couch, veg to TV and video games, and completely burn out. But Seth has other plans, as James Franco, his new best friend, is throwing a massive house-warming party at his new place, celebrity friends and acquaintances all welcome. Among them are Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, and many more. Rihanna and Emma Watson are also among the guests, the former seemingly around just to slap the hell out of Michael Cera whenever he acts up, which is often.
Jay, not a fan of any of Seth's new celebrity friends, is miserable at the party, but his night goes from bad to wholly and hellishly worse when blue lights appear to suck people up into the sky, sinkholes suck actors as well as average people down into the ground, and complete anarchy breaks out. This leaves Jay, Seth, Franco - we refer to him by his last name, since everyone else does - Craig, Danny, and Jonah stuck in the Hollywood home as the apocalypse rages on outside. Hilarity has already ensued, but what comes after refuses to let your jaw stop hurting.
That's the ferocity with which the laughs, and good ones, come in This is The End. Rogen and Goldberg learned long ago that, when it comes to laughs, you have to work with sheer numbers. They come hard and fast here with everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, nailing their respective fictional version of themselves. Cera's is a little against his own grain, but that's what makes him even funnier. The writing team, who also serve as co-directors here, keep the pace moving, making what could have been a night-the-apocalypse-broke-out premise and stretching it to last an undetermined time period. Kind of like The Mist, but instead of small-towners, we have the best comedy group culled together in years. Instead of a grocery store, we have James Franco's house. And instead of strange creatures from another dimension, we have…well, that's best left unexplained.
Rogen and Goldberg do a fine job misleading the audience as to what is causing the world to break down into absolute chaos as it is. The mystery and the way it slowly reveals itself is just one more 2×4 in this beautiful, hilarious house of insanity. It's when the answer to that mystery is revealed that you realize This is The End is even more creative than a first glance shows us. For more than a handful of reasons, This is The End is the freshest comedy in years, giving us ample amounts of cinematic goodness we just haven't seen put to film before. At least, not like this.
The celebrity angle is the clearest way the film breaks rules, having all these actors playing versions of themselves and then showing us what they might do should the world as we know it come to an end. Instead of running to find civilization somewhere, they hole up, try to ration their food and water as best they can - That plan goes all to hell quicker than you can say "Oh, hi, Danny McBride" - and pass the time as if it's the longest sleepover they've ever been to. One way to pass the time is to film a sweded version of Pineapple Express 2, in which McBride's character from that film plans to take out Woody Harrelson before he can legalize pot. Woody Harrelson does not show up, but the stand-in works just as well. That's just one of the countless high points of hilarity that will have you rolling and rolling with uncontrollable laughter.
What works best with This is The End, a film where everything works, is the dynamic of the group and the individual performers we get to watch try to survive the end of the world. Everyone here has their moment to shine, and even a few cameo appearances that are best left undisclosed nail the 30 seconds of screen time they get. However, it's Danny McBride, Kenny Powers himself, who decides he's going to steal the show for the 45 minutes he's in the picture. His apparent hatred for James Franco makes their exchanges all the funnier. It's difficult to say any one performer stands out, since everyone is doing effortlessly hilarious work here, but McBride comes the closest to that.
There's even a nice bit of a message thrown in for good measure, as Jay's reluctance to fall into the Hollywood, celebrity lifestyle is just one of many aspects that pushes This is The End to perfection. If there is a drawback to the film, and it's just as easy to say there are none, it's that the gross-out humor may not work for everyone, but even those turned off by that kind of humor are sure to find plenty of laughs in other areas. This is The End is the kind of comedy that hits you with so much humor that any negatives are completely swept aside and unnoticed by how much your sides hurt. It's raucous, awesome, and kills - both figuratively and literally - at every turn. Without some sort of real end-of-the-world event hitting later this year, This is The End is the best apocalyptic, and funniest, version of Hollywood we're likely to see.
Jeremy's Rating: 10 out of 10