Basically Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wanted to make a feature length version of a short film they had made a few years back called Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse starring Rogen and Jay Baruchel. Rogen, who had made plenty of friends in Hollywood working for Judd Apatow and as a writer for Sacha Baron Cohen (Da Ali G Show), decided to use all his connections to take it to the next level. He managed to snag such names as James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segel, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kahling, Kevin Hart, Martin Starr, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Channing Tatum to participate.
On the eve of a housewarming party at James Franco’s new pad, an apocalypse begins that engulfs most of Hollywood and the guest list. With only Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Franco left alive they attempt to survive in a world set aflame. This is the End’s modus operandi is that the biblical apocalypse/rapture occurs and hilarity ensues.
All the major actors play an exaggerated version of themselves. For instance Jonah Hill, who I have read is incredibly difficult to work with, is playing a super nice Jonah Hill who just wants everyone to like him. On the flip side, Danny McBride, who I heard is one of the nicest and most collaborative actors working today, is playing a complete shitheel version of himself. It works and just adds to the comedy. Michael Cera… his scenes have to be seen to be believed (“Does this coke smell funny?”). Everyone is up to the task to parody themselves in the extreme and no one is spared ridicule, or a horrible death, of any kind.
Out of the entire pack of actors it was Jay Baruchel who I think is the standout amongst the cast. Basically the movie is about Jay and Seth attempting to rekindle their long standing and stale friendship amidst all this craziness, and while I can understand why Seth isn’t all that engaging since he’s also focusing on directing everyone, Jay virtually takes the movie on his puny shoulders and runs away with it. He’s always been an underrated comic actor in my eyes (ever see Goon?) and I hope the more lucrative offers start rolling in for him. Sure Danny McBride owns every scene he’s in, but it’s Jay who stealthily takes it back when you least expect it.
Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, This is the End goes to show that these two are extremely multitalented. They’re not unwilling to go to some horribly dark places and find the humor in death and other weighty themes. Sometimes they tend to go a little too far, but it’s all in the name of the funny. Rogen pulled triple duty by acting here as well. That’s dedication! Just don’t make another effing Green Hornet movie or I’ll jump off the bandwagon. Kthnxbye.
Some of the humor falls flat unfortunately, and things tend to get a little preachy once the reason for all the madness going on outside is revealed to be the rapture. I’m not one for that sort of thing, and while the movie does begin to lay the religion on thick in a few scenes it somehow managed to find a way to make fun of what was going on, even when those jokes didn’t work. Regardless, I give them props for trying.
I’m going to keep this review short as to not go into spoilers and ruin all the best bits or jokes, but believe me this is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in ages. One particular joke, which harkens back to a horror movie of decades past, got such a rise out of me in the theater that other audience members looked at me as if I had lost my mind. This is the End works. It works so well I’d say that it’s one of my favorite movies of the summer of 2013 so far. Go see it before it is replaced by the dog day flicks released in August.
4 out of 5