FILM REVIEW: This is the End
From Superbad to Pineapple Express and now This is the End, the West Coast writing duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have specialized in movies about modern bro-ships. In with their new apocalyptic comedy This is The End, friendships are strained as never before and yet the calamity always starts from a kernel of truth.
A prank for TMZ-obsessed times, This is the End features a galaxy of stars playing themselves, like a Mad Magazine parody brought to life. The story starts simply — Montrealer Jay Baruchel flies to L.A. to meet up with his Canadian homey Seth Rogen. Baruchel is looking forward to a quiet evening of dope and Xbox but Rogen wants to hang with his hip Hollywood friends. James Franco's having a party at his new pad. And so the dynamic is set. Rogen as the mellow peacemaker — Baruchel as the reluctant insider who never really belongs.
Jonah Hill as the social climber, left, and Rihanna as Rihanna in This is the End. (Columbia Pictures/Sony/Associated Press)
Co-writers and co-directors (and friends from their Bar Mitzvah years), Goldberg and Rogen start the action by upending our expectations at the party. Safe to say you may never look at Michael Cera the same way again, which is exactly the point. Rogen and company make the most of our celebrity-centred gaze and they control the narrative, toying with our assumptions for maximum comedic effect.
So we see Franco playing it up as the pretentious poser, his Hollywood digs covered in his latest art acquisitions. Jonah Hill comes off as a polite, but snide, social climber, with a gaudy diamond to accent his d-bag status. Craig Robinson just wants to chill, appearing as a towel-slinging Romeo looking to ride out his last days.
In terms of just what is occurring in This is the End, I don't want to reveal too much, — but let's just say it gets Biblical. In terms of pure schadenfreude, it's unlikely you've seen this many famous faces fall to their death since The Poseidon Adventure. But the breezy 1970s disaster movie production values give the carnage an almost campy feel.
Like a demonic cross between The Hangover and Ghostbusters, This is the End works because the comedy springs from an emotional truth. Every riff seems to come from the question "What would I do now?" Like so many Seth/Evan collaborations the action is anchored around the friendship — in this case between Seth and Jay. It might sound dull, but in a comedy filled with dangling demon parts and hell hounds, it helps to be grounded. It's that mix of improv, irreverence and reality-based beginnings that makes This is the End a comedic revelation.
(Oh and don't leave early. Safe to say The End ends with a hilarious payoff.)
RATING: 4/5Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill play themselves to comic effect in This Is The End. (Columbia Pictures/Sony/Associated Press)
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