This Is The End (15)
Directed by: Seth Rogan & Evan Goldberg
Starring: Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill
Running time: 106 min
Based on the 2007 short Jay and Seth vs The Apocalypse, This is The End follows a group of actors as they attempt to survive the apocalypse. And naturally, hilarity ensues…
The opening is without a doubt the strongest part of the movie, with a barrage of celebrity cameos from a no-nonsense Rihanna to a coked up Michael Cera partying hard at James Franco’s newly constructed homestead at the bottom of the Hollywood hills. Then of course, all hell breaks loose (literally) as the heavens open and blue beams of light pull certain individuals into the clouds, before the ground opens up into a sinkhole and begins to consume those much loved A-listers, while the drug riddled Cera is impaled by a falling streetlamp. Because cocaine is bad. Yet weed? Not so much, as the survivors are constantly seen smoking it while attempting to survive. Later on an acid trip allows for some strange visuals, but its all part of the movies attempt at killing some time before the finale.
Self parody is a risky game, and yet even though its mentioned several times that the actors are all playing fictionalized versions of themselves, they ultimately come off as just playing the typical kind of roles you’d usually associate them with. Rogan is the stoner slacker, Franco is the half hero half dork who takes charge and so on. Emma Watsons much publicized cameo (and it is barely a cameo, as she clocks up what must be well under five minutes of screen time) is a bust, with the 20 year old stealing the groups supplies and fleeing, as seen in the trailer, only after overhearing them discuss which one of them would be most likely to rape her. Charming.
The second act is where the movie begins to seriously lose points, as the plot goes out the window to make way for many ad-libbed bits, which go no-where – and most of the time just don’t work. An encounter between Franco and Danny McBride over a certain XXX rated magazine starts off funny, but drags itself out into an uncomfortable viewing experience. I hate myself for admitting it, but a series of events which leads to the survivors unwittingly playing a game of football with a heavily bleeding severed head did make me laugh, if only for the groups reactions than anything else.
Nerds will lap it up, with Franco’s home being littered with props from his past movies, while the film itself is filled with various nods to other classic movies. Kind of like Scary Movie, but with slightly better writing. Who would have ever dreamed a nod to Roman Polanski’s horror Rosemary’s Baby would crop up in a mainstream 2013 comedy?
The movie seems to realise that its middle act is essentially a load of padding, and slams its foot on the accelerator as it reaches the third act – both with the comedy and the horror. A few jump scares here and there up the ante for the protagonists, but also gave me a bizarre glimpse of a frat pack version of Ghostbusters, as one of the demons chasing after Robinson and Baruchel was suspiciously reminiscent of a terror dog rampaging through 55 Central Park West.
There are some scenes which did generate a few laughs, such as the groups ill judged attempt at making a home movie sequel to Pineapple Express, but the highlight is Jonah Hill, playing himself but with the nice guy factor cranked up to 11, who becomes possessed throughout the movie and begins attacking the rest of the group with super human strength. An Exorcist parody naturally arrives, albeit without the tubular bells and Priests, as Baruchel raises a home made cross and begins to shout “the power of Christ compels you!” because, you know, that’s all they had to do in The Exorcist. The only thing that saves this weak parody (a reference, surely?) is Hill, whose improvised demonic voiced one liners perfectly cuts down the rest of the characters in a hilarious bitchy manner.
The CGI is a mixed bag, for the most part it does look very cartoonish, and the green screen is very dodgy. The wide shots of Franco’s mansion surrounded by fire and brimstone look good, but could have done with an extra pass to make the devastation look realistic. The demons are frightening and look good, but the sight of a gigantic Devils reproductive organs is just crude and unsettling, even if it was included to generate a few shock laughs. But the special effects aren’t what were here for. And as a comedy for the most part it works well.
I do have to admit, it would not be as funny as it was and the premise would have fallen apart had it not been for the actors playing themselves, but when the movie tries, it works well. Its fun, yet forgettable. I liked it, and found myself laughing more than I thought I would, but the ball is now in Simon Pegg and Nick Frosts court, as they attempt to survive the apocalypse in Edgar Wrights upcoming pub crawl epic The Worlds End. But knowing Pegg and Frosts comedic style and Wrights stylistic direction, This Is The End isn’t much competition.