When the end of the world comes, people like to think that they would rise to the occasion. They would be their better selves and find the strength that they needed to act heroically and keep their loved ones safe. They would be brave and band together with others to survive, helping each other out along the way as best they could. This noble impression is reinforced in countless apocalyptic movies and television shows.
In reality, people would freak the hell out and get into petty squabbles over who ate the last Milky Way while holed up in their home. The new Seth Rogen movie This is The End recognizes this and embraces it. This certainly isn’t the best film of 2013, but I’m willing to bet it may be the funniest. It’s silly and profane, but it is also spectacularly amusing. Once the film started, I didn’t stop laughing until the credits started rolling and even then I still had some residual giggles from what I had just watched.
In This is The End, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel play fictionalized (one would hope) versions of themselves. Jay is in town visiting his pal Seth, though their relationship is a bit strained as they have started to grow apart. Jay isn’t particularly fond of Seth’s new posse of friends and reluctantly accompanies him to a house warming party at James Franco’s house. The party is in full swing when the unthinkable happens: the world comes to an end. The ground opens up, the mountains are on fire and chaos rules the night as some people are beamed up into the night sky. The six friends take shelter in Franco’s mansion and do their best to hunker down and make sense of the situation. They are ill-prepared for this sort of situation and soon cabin fever and fear begin to reveal how they really feel about each other.
Written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg – the same pair that wrote Superbad and Pineapple Express (and to be fair, last year’s dreadful The Watch) – This is The End will not be confused for sophisticated or highbrow humor. There are lots of jokes about masturbation, drug use and the like. If that kind of humor offends you or isn’t your thing, than save your cash and go see something else. But if you don’t mind jokes that dip into the crude and inappropriate, This is The End is an amazingly fun ride. Not every joke lands with perfect precision, but the jokes are so rapid fire that you don’t even have time to dwell on the few that don’t work as well. There were probably some jokes that missed that I didn’t even hear because I was laughing so hard at the joke that preceded it and the one that followed it. When the jokes do hit their target, which the majority does, it is some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen on the big screen in quite some time. And as with most Rogen films, it isn’t all poop jokes and related nonsense; underneath all the sophomoric hijinks there is some sweetness and heart.
The cast is outstanding in this movie; it’s a real who’s who of the young comedians working today. The six main actors alone are a Murder’s Row of comedy; any film would be lucky to get two or three of these guys in a movie. Having all of them work together somehow just doesn’t seem fair. This is the most I’ve enjoyed a James Franco performance in quite some time. If he had been this loose and funny at the Academy Awards it would have been a totally different show. It helps that all of these guys are friends or have worked together previously. The chemistry is palpable and they are clearly having so much fun doing this that it is contagious. They don’t take themselves too seriously and are more than willing to have jokes at their own expense, whether it is a reference to Rogen’s “distinctive” laugh to lingering questions about Frano’s sexuality. They just go for it and appear to be having the time of their lives in the process. Add that it is just plain funny to boot and this movie is really firing on all cylinders.
While the leads are stellar, what really takes this movie to the next level are the fantastic cameos throughout the film. I have a sneaking suspicion that Rogen just opened up his rolodex and called a bunch of his famous pals to be a part of this and the film is the better for it. All sorts of funny people pop up and I’m sure that I’ll catch some more people upon repeat viewings. The real scene stealer of them all is Michael Cera. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but suffice it to say that I was glad that I had watched all the new Arrested Development episodes before the screening of This is The End as I’m not sure that I’ll look at him the same way again. There is another standout cameo that is also spectacular, but to say any more would ruin the surprise. Let’s just say that you’ll know it when you see it. It’s outstanding.
Some other thoughts:
- Any movie that reunites all the male Freaks from Freaks and Geeks automatically gets a B+ in my book.
- I have no idea what Rihanna is doing in this movie. She’s the only casting choice that didn’t feel organic and stood out.
- I have no idea why, but “sinkhole de mayo” still cracks me up.
- The idea that Rogen pitches for Pineapple Express 2? I would totally watch that.
- Rolling Stone did an interview with 4 of the stars (no Robinson or Baruchel) and to say that Hill isn’t portrayed well is putting it mildly. That dude needs a publicist and to remove the stick from his bum.
- Ha! The ending is wacky, but if you know me (and I’d like to think at this point you kind of do) you will appreciate why it make me smile despite its lunacy.
- Unless they changed this after the advanced screenings, no need to stay after the credits. We waited around to see if they would give us another morsel, but sadly there was no additional material.
This is The End is a rollicking summer comedy that exceeded my expectations. The theater rocked with laughter at my screening; it was a diverse crowd but everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. If you are looking for a silly and ridiculously funny movie, look no further. I’m not saying I’m rooting for the rapture, but if it was coming This is The End wouldn’t be the worst note to end it on.
This is The End opens nationwide Wednesday June 12th.