For Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s directorial debut This is the End, the duo got many of their friends together to goof on themselves and the industry that made them famous. But those there’s a winking sense of parody to the film, it does give you characters to be interested in, even if it’s James Franco (James Franco) or Danny McBride (Danny McBride). Though perhaps a little more Caddyshack than Ghostbusters, it’s still a very funny movie.
- Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
- Writer: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
- Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson,
- Cinematography: Brandon Trost
- Original Music By: Henry Jackman
Jay Baruchel (Baruchel) has come down from Canada to visit Seth Rogen (Rogen). They plan to spend a couple days together as they used to be much closer, but Seth seems to be moving on, or embracing his fame. Seth takes Jay to a party at James Franco’s (Franco) where much of Hollywood’s young actors are hanging out and doing drugs, with Michael Cera (Michael Cera) acting ridiculous while high on coke. Seth and Jay go to get Jay cigarettes when the rapture happens, though when they get back to Franco’s, it’s like nothing has changed. But then a sinkhole opens up on Franco’s lawn, and every one starts dying. Eventually, the only survivors in the house are James Franco, Jonah Hill (Hill), Craig Robinson (Robinson), Seth, Jay and eventually Danny McBride (McBride). Reluctant to accept the reality of the situation, they first try to get by on what supplies they have, as everyone’s inner secrets, badness and truths emerge.
- Hilarious: Comedies are always defined by one thing: do they make you laugh? And here, that’s definitely the case, from start to finish there are great jokes, and with a deep bench of performers, there’s always something. Baruchel is essentially the straight man of the group, but everyone else gets their time to shine. Especially Franco, who plays himself as vaguely attracted to Seth Rogen, and mocks his weirdo art sensibilities, while also bringing up some of his flops (like Flyboys). Danny McBride gets to go full McBride, and own the film for a good couple minutes (but more on that later).
- The In-Jokes are Funny: Though the trailers spoiled many of the cameos (but not all, thankfully), one of the fun things is watching people riff on their public personas. For McBride and Franco that means playing the version of themselves that people maybe think they are, and for Jonah Hill it involves playing a self-involved person who tries to put on a nice face while still being a jerk. And, of course, for Michael Cera that involves playing a coked out sex maniac. This could be a little too rib-nudging, but it never plays that way.
- All-Out: Though the movie is mostly episodic, some of the comic set pieces (like when the gang decide to do all the drugs in the house) are uproariously funny.
- Tone: The rapture does happen, and when demonic beasts show up, they’re done well. As a somewhat low-budget movie, the film spends its budget on the right things.
- One Set: For the most part, the film is set at James Franco’s house, and after a while, the claustrophobia does start to kick in. Perhaps the film would have worked a little better if it had been tighter, but after a while it does start to feel a little cheap.
- Danny McBride: Though he’s mostly hilarious in the film, as he’s playing the most obviously worst of them after a while you get tired of being around his character. And I say that being an avowed McBride fan.
- The Trailers, etc.: A lot of the film’s best reveals would have been better served if they weren’t known ahead of time. If you haven’t watched any of that stuff, but are interested in the film, keep it that way.
This is the End could have been a big in-joke between famous people, but it actually works as a movie, and is hilarious. It’s a nice break from the relentless CGI and pummeling action of the summer season. Rogen and Goldberg do good work as first-time directors, and it is fun seeing these actors mock themselves. It doesn’t feel like an all time great comedy, but it definitely delivers big laughs.
This is the End hits theaters June 12.