Monday, 1 July 2013

Movie Review: This Is the End

The fact that the best comedy of the year so far is a parody of apocalyptic movies and starring Seth Rogen and James Franco either says a lot about the comedies of the year so far or shows how Rogen has upped his game since ‘Pineapple Express’. Honestly, it’s a little of both.

As old friends Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel (Playing themselves, as do the rest of the cast) meet up in Los Angeles for a party at James Franco’s house the unthinkable happens, the apocalypse begins. ‘This Is the End’ tells the story of a group of pampered, unprepared actors trying to survive at the end of the world.

The premise of ‘This Is the End’ gives these actors great liberty to make light of their public and celebrity personas, something that works especially well for the more famous members of the cast such as Jonah Hill or James Franco. In Franco’s case he is given the chance to lampoon the somewhat “renaissance man” image he has acquired for himself as a result of his various pursuits in the past few years, in the context of the movie Franco plays up for great comic effect the pretentiousness that many believe him to possess. Similarly Jonah Hill’s recent Oscar nomination has given the actor a surge in fame, something that contributes to Hill playing himself as an actor who takes himself very seriously and possesses an inflated sense of self-value.

The characters try to cope with the apocalypse, with varying degrees of success.

There are some really solid jokes in ‘This Is the End’ that if you watch in the right mindset will have your sides hurting in no time. The group of actors assembled onscreen work great together as you would expect and their interactions against the tense backdrop of an apocalypse allows for some great moments of stir-crazy hilarity. If you were a fan of Seth Rogen’s previous work on ‘Pineapple Express’ then you will find that ‘This Is the End’ will certainly scratch that comedic itch, the same stoner humour elements are here and the self-satirising approach allows for greater punch to the jokes thanks to their real world relevance. In my opinion Rogen’s humour is at its best when it is producing improvised conversations which are hilarious in their utter surrealism, all stemming from the foundation of one simple idea, ‘This Is the End’ has this type of humour in spades and they certainly deliver some genuine belly laughs.

The flipside of Rogen’s brand of comedy however is that his penchant for the bizarre discussions of a weed fuelled mind result in some comedy that fizzles out quickly if it even ignites at all, these moments feel more like a private joke between Rogen and his co-director/co-writer Evan Goldberg than something that would appeal to a wider audience. These instances are peppered throughout the film and honestly drag it down to less than what it could have been, the momentum built up from a few great tangents from Danny McBride and James Franco is savagely cut down by some ill thought-out clumsy dud of a joke. Maybe this is down to my own personal fatigue of Rogen’s stoner persona and some of the comedy centered on just that but I don’t believe that in the instance of this movie that viewers would disagree with me when it comes to some outright unfunny moments of “comedy” in the story.

Somehow they still found time for drugs. Somehow.

‘This Is the End’ suffers from an odd consequence of having such a big name cast, it ends up with far too much money than a story like this needs in order to be told. Some of the outright ridiculousness of its overproduction invokes images of money being frantically tossed at an idea. This is especially true when in the final act of the movie a sudden change in genre is adopted meaning the comedic elements of the film take a backseat in favour of the odd inclusion of some actual apocalyptic action on the scale of a movie such as ‘War of the Worlds’. It is at this point, when the comedy fades for a while, that we see just how painfully two-dimensional some of the “characters” we’ve been following thus far are, this is something that not even such an unnecessarily grandiose special effects budget can mask.

Despite the fact that I don’t seem to look on this movie completely favourably I would still urge you to see it, because like almost all of Rogen’s work, it’s delivers a few laughs the first time you see it and is worth the price of a cinema ticket. It is with repeat viewings however that the cracks most definitely start to show.


  1. Really, thoroughly, disliked 90% of this to be honest. I loved the premise and the opening of the film, but after the apocalypse I thought it went rapidly down hill. The the jokes were obvious, predictable and immature. Think there was a 45 minutes period during which I don't think I laughed once. They had a 45 second joke about masturbating for christ's sake. Couldn't be more than two stars for me.

    1. Believe me, I honestly side with you, the movie is incredibly indulgent since it just lets its leads do whatever the hell they want for far longer than they needed to. Yet there were some properly enjoyable jokes (the rape conversation, some of the scene you're referring to and the scene with the handgun), as a comedy at the minute it's quite good but in a few years it won't be worth even watching again really. This barely scrapped 4/5 for me, but in comparison to comedies this year I'd have to regretfully say it's the best.