THIS IS THE END
Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Starring: Jay Burachel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Michael Cera
As far as Hollywood insider films go This Is the End is perfect. The tongue-in-cheek stupidity of the humor and the clear "good time" the cast and crew had making the film make this an end-of-the-year trip worth taking.
The set up is simple. Jay Burachel (How to Train Your Dragon) visits L.A. for the weekend, planning on staying at best friend Seth Rogen's (Knocked Up) house. Since Burachel isn't a fan of the Hollywood scene, they plan on having a laid back weekend getting high and eating crappy food. That is until Rogen decides they should pop in at James Franco's (127 Hours) housewarming party celebrating his huge, museum-like abode. Burachel is reluctant, but is willing to go for his friend Rogen. At the party they run into a cast of Hollywood's young elite comedians and celebrities, including Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Kevin Hart, and plenty of others. When Burachel decides to go for a walk to buy some cigarettes, and Rogen tags along, they witness the Rapture and all hell breaking loose on Hollywood. The rest of the movie is a fight for those "left behind" to stay alive and figure out a way to be raptured, as well. With Burachel, Rogen, Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride sharing the house, comedy ensues as well as plenty of gore.
While some moviegoers might think the comedy is just plain stupid (which it is), the joke is that Rogen and Evan Goldberg (writer of Superbad, jumping behind the camera for the first time here) allow the cast plenty of improv and joking of themselves to sell most of the comedy. Each character is a send up of the actor playing them in the most absurd way. Cera has some of the funniest laughs at the beginning, playing an asshole, coke-snorting version of himself. Hill's effeminate version of himself is over-the-top and perfect, as well.
The cameos only partly sell the picture (Emma Watson plays a beastly independent girl out for survival in her short cameo). The big seller is the ridiculousness of the other details. The fact that no one at Franco's party is taken in the Rapture is funny enough. The joke is never really explained, but if you catch it, it adds to the humor. There are pop culture references galore, so it may be over your head if you haven't at least heard of Pineapple Express or remember that Hill is an Oscar nominated actor.
The adventure and terror of the apocalypse does add for some extra fun. When Robinson gets elected to go outside, it's both terrifying and hilarious.
While the movie isn't necessarily perfect cinema, it is one smart/stupid comedy, giving more laughs than any other film this year. Unfortunately, award season isn't too kind to comedies like This Is the End or Superbad, even though they're the movies that become cult favorites.
There is a lot of guy humor involved (a whole scene about McBride's "alone time" offers a lot of laughs, especially when you can see Rogen laughing to the side), but if you relax and enjoy, realizing it's supposed to be dumb, you'll be in for a fun ride. That last sentence was not supposed to be as inappropriate as it may sound.
I really enjoyed this movie and I know it'll be one that I'll watch again, laughing just as hard.
Runtime: 107 minutes