The world is going to end any minute now. By the time you’re done with this review it could already be over. At least that’s what Hollywood believes. Over the past few years it has churned out countless predictions for how humanity will meet its demise. Whether it’s a Mayan prophecy, alien invasion, zombie attack or a deathly virus, Hollywood has been very creative in showing audiences worse case scenarios. But after all this tragedy some comedy relief is not far behind and this year some studios want us to go out on a high note. There is Edgar Wright’s latest Cornetto release (the series of films with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost that all have a different flavour of Cornetto in them) The World’s End as well as This Is a Disaster and Rapture-Palooza. But before them comes celebrity crammed This is the End a film so over the top it will either be an instant hit or a total flop.
In This is the End all the actors play caricatures of themselves. Jay Baruchel, from Knocked Up and How To Train Your Dragon, comes to LA to visit his old friend Seth Rogen. After getting high together and playing computer games Rogen persuades Baruchel to go to a party at James Franco’s new house. There Baruchel must socialise with Rogen’s new friends who he’s made since he became a huge star. Then judgement day happens. The righteous are taken up in a blue light and the wicked, including most of the celebrities at the house party, are left on Earth to fend for themselves.
Although this doesn’t sound like this should work it does. It’s a stoner comedy that could have only come from the minds of Rogen and frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg, the team that brought us Pineapple Express and Superbad. There is a smorgasbord of talent here that all play up to the public’s perceptions of themselves. Rogen is a weed smoking nice guy; Baruchel is indie kid who hates LA; Franco is a liberal intellectual snob; Danny McBride is a gross partier; Jonah Hill is the new kid who wants to be nice. This leads to a number of extreme and comedic situations-whether it’s Franco painting a picture for Rogen to show his admiration or McBride turning up uninvited to the party. There are also characters that go against perception such as Michael Cera who plays a cocaine snorting sex-pest who receives a duel blowjob in Franco’s bathroom. The audience will laugh right the way through the film at just how ridiculous the characters are. The greatest scene has to be the one which involves Emma Watson using an axe to steal the group’s supplies. The movie should be a hit just for that.
It is possible that This is the End has unseen depths that analyse the concepts of celebrities and how they are not who we perceive them to be and in fact not good people (since most of them were left behind after the rapture). But on the surface it’s a simple buddy movie about sticking with people as they change and remembering to bring your friends with you as life goes on. That is if you were having a friendship crisis during the apocalypse. As all these actors have worked together in the past and enjoy each other’s company the chemistry is all there making the relationships believable. Baruchel is great as the geeky outsider who doesn’t like his best friend’s cooler friends.
About two thirds of the way through the film does drag a little. It could have slightly less Lord of the Flies style examples of animosity growing within the house. It was not necessary to see every way in which the characters possibly fall out. But saying that, the end makes up for this. With demon attacks, cannibalism and confrontations with the anti-Christ, the final thirty minutes is full of suspense.
This movie may be outrageous and extreme but that is why it works so well. The cast fully get into their, sometimes self-critical, roles and play them with gusto. It may not be to everyone’s taste but for those who enjoy gross-out, dicks-out type comedies this is some of Rogen and Goldberg’s best work.