This Is the End
Directed by: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (screenplay), Jason Stone (short film)
Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel
This Is the End rotates between being one of the funniest mainstream comedies in recent memory and one of the sloppiest. If the budget had been hacked in half and forced directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to go without all the CGI demons, it would have been ten times as good.
As it stands, though, it’s hard to argue with a movie where some of the funniest Hollywood actors play themselves during the apocalypse. Every actor is at the top of their self-mocking form, and when the movie doesn’t detour into much weaker action territory, it’s hilarious.
Things start off casually enough, with Jay Baruchel (all performers play themselves) arriving in L.A. to visit Seth Rogen for what he thinks is an afternoon of smoking weed and playing video games. Then Rogen takes him to a party at James Franco’s house, where Baruchel is uncomfortable and doesn’t really like anyone, especially Jonah Hill.
There are plenty of hilarious cameos in this party scene, most surprisingly of all from Michael Cera, who lights his quirky, soft-spoken person on fire by doing lines of cocaine and smacking Rihanna on the ass. Soon enough the apocalypse arrives, but it’s still certainly more bacchanalia than Melancholia. The main survivors are Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride.
Comedic styles mesh to near perfect effect, and other great cameos from Emma Watson and Channing Tatum spice things up a little. As mentioned earlier, This Is the End runs into the most trouble with trying to break up the comedy. Goldberg and Rogen are fantastic writers of both casual and extreme filth and they know just how to pace those scenes and which actor to cut to, but they are not action filmmakers. A few funny nods to Rosemary’s Baby aside, all the talk about the Book of Revelation is overdone and holds the movie back from being the great comedy it could have been.
Cutting out a bulk of those demonic scenes and leaving it at a simple apocalypse would also help slim down the arduous running time. The movie feels 20 minutes too long, most of it at the end, Tatum and McBride’s hilarious scene together aside. See performers mock both themselves and the culture that made them famous to such a vulgar extent is by far the movie’s biggest pleasure. Seeing Hollywood burn after seeing Rogen harassed by a TMZ-esque man with a video camera is no coincidence. That actors are left behind when Rapture comes obviously isn’t, either.