Car crashes, explosions, decapitations, exorcisms, the apocalypse and tons of dick jokes make up Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s ‘This Is the End’ – and it’s the most fun I’ve had at the movies in ten years. In this dark comedy, the entire Apatow gang plus many more cameos from popular comedians all play themselves as they take on the end of days. It’s gut-bustingly funny, sick, crude and self-deprecating, played like a twisted Reality show, complete with solo interviews and cameras scattered throughout the movie. I anticipate a big opening with long-lasting power, even after ‘Man of Steel’ opens later this week.
‘This Is the End’ takes it cues from a short film that Goldberg and Rogen made called ‘Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse’ that had virtually the same cast, but was never released publicly. It only ran two minutes and was very low-budget. This time around, they have a mega budget with visual effects on a grand scale, and the cast has more to work with. Our two main focus points are Rogen and Jay Baruchel, as Baruchel flies into Los Angeles to visit his long-time Canadian friend, Rogen, for the week. Out of the entire Apatow cast of actors, Baruchel still resides in Canada and has a serious disdain for the life in L.A.
We get a funny glimpse of the lives of young, successful actors in Hollywood, complete with all of the drugs, booze and jokes to go with it. The affair takes place at James Franco’s brand new home that he designed himself, as he is a man of many talents. His home is fit for a king and overlooks the Hollywood sign, just a block or two away from a shopping center. The first segment of the movie is packed with hilarious discussions and songs from this all-star comedy cast, including Mindy Kaling, Michael Cera, Rihanna, Emma Watson, Jason Segel,and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. At one point, we see Cera getting serviced by two girls at the same time, all the while Baruchel is less than thrilled to be there.
As Rogen and Baruchel walk across the street to grab a pack of smokes and a snack, all hell breaks loose… literally. There are explosions, fires, large holes in the ground opening up, cars crashing into people and buildings, and beams of light shooting out of the sky and lifting people up. All of Los Angeles is engulfed in flames and many of Franco’s guests are killed or swallowed up by the giant holes. After the initial apocalyptic impact, only a few survivors are left inside Franco’s mansion, including Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson. After they regroup, they go through their food, water and weapons (which amount to only a baseball bat and a prop gun from the movie ‘Flyboys’).
After their first night, the survivors are awakened by Danny McBride, who wasn’t invited to Franco’s party but ended up passing out in his bathtub. McBride uses most of their rationed food to cook breakfast, completely unaware of what happened the night before. Soon after that, Emma Watson shows up to take refuge, but leaves quickly after overhearing the guys talking about a non-existent “rapey” vibe. Now left with nothing liquid to drink, tensions run high and things get serious. McBride turns into a horrible houseguest who takes more rations than he should, whereas the rest of the group tries to come to terms with what has happened and figure out how to survive, or at least get into heaven. The results are a highly entertaining yet perverse thrill ride.
A lot of the film seems to have a healthy dose of improv between the actors, mostly dealing with certain parts of the anatomy, drugs and sex. We also get their takes on religion and how worthy of being saved they think they are, which offers a little insight into the Hollywood elite and how they think. The film takes a couple of twists and turns into demonic possession territory, followed by a monster movie. It all works if you don’t take it seriously.
The entire cast turn in solid gold performances and do what they do best, which is provide great comedy. I laughed from start to finish, even if some of the jokes are far-fetched or straight-up disgusting. ‘This Is the End’ is no doubt one of the year’s funniest films so far. It will be difficult for any comedy to top what Rogen and Goldberg have delivered. I can’t wait to see this again.