There is an obvious difference to the viewer when a cast and crew have fun making a film rather than treating it as work. The film itself seems to have a more cohesive tone and the chemistry between actors is usually spot-on. This Is The End is one of those films where those involved clearly had a good time. All-around cool guy Seth Rogen is working with writer Evan Goldberg once again, but this time, in addition to writing, the duo is directing. We can only assume the working relationship between the frequent collaborators is as chill as some of the characters Rogen is best known for portraying. If so, that would clearly explain a lot about this film.
I don’t have a problem with big-name actors having a good time making a movie as long as they don’t forget that they’re not the only ones watching the movie. The biggest problem with This Is The End is that, at times, the audience is alienated because this is exactly what happens. The film isn’t taking itself too seriously, it’s doing the opposite. The entertainment value of this film is supposed to come from the way it centers on the experience of several big name actors playing caricatures of themselves while dealing with a catastrophic disaster. Because everyone involved is having so much fun playing out this concept, the film tends to spend a lesser amount of time doing other such important things as developing characters or nailing down a solid plot.
However, while Rogen, Goldberg, and company are guilty of indulging themselves on their own ideas, the result can be pretty hilarious. Rogen and Goldberg’s crude humor is not for everyone, but for those who are fans, this film takes that brand of comedy to arguably more ridiculous levels than we’ve seen before. Plus, actors making fun of themselves are always going to do a good job. The film even makes reference to the ways that they are portrayed by the media and plays off of this at times. Similarly, the film itself is something we haven’t really seen before; a play off of the traditional Hollywood cameo and an absurdist take on the end of the world. Of course, two other films with similar end of the world intentions are hitting theaters this year and it will be interesting to see where this new sub-genre ends up. At least for now Rogen and Goldberg’s efforts here have met expectations, and you can’t fault them for delivering what audiences wanted to see.
Story: Jay Baruchel has just landed in LA and is looking forward to spending the weekend with his pal Seth Rogen. Seth suggests that they attend James Franco’s housewarming party and much to Jay’s dismay they do so. At the party the two friends meet up with a bunch of other celebrities, all of whom Jay can’t stand being around. While trying to get some air away from the party, Jay and Seth experience a severe earthquake and lots of fire (the start of the Apocalypse). They return to James’ house and along with the remaining few people that survive, try to board up the place and wait it out. Soon though, it becomes apparent that this isn’t an event that they can simply wait out. They have to come up with a plan to work together in order to survive. Do they have what it takes, or will their experiences as rich celebrities impair their ability to survive?….Good (8.7/10)
Acting: Everyone in the film plays a version of themselves that seems skewed towards or away from how they are portrayed in the media. Seth Rogan likes to get high, James Franco is very eccentric, Jonah Hill is the nice guy, Craig Robinson is the life of the party, Danny McBride is the self-centered prick, etc. Jay’s persona is easily the “main character”. His version of himself is paranoid, difficult to get along with, but by far the smartest and least self absorbed of the bunch. For this reason it is hard to tell how “well” they do as we’re never really sure how close these personalities are to the real actors’. At the back of your mind however, you keep hoping that in real life, these actors’ personalities are nothing close to as horrible as these characters that they are portraying. All of them do play these roles well, and are all pretty funny in doing so. Michael Cera has a walk on role playing an opposite version of his mild-mannered self and is a highlight of the film. Good (8.8/10)
Direction: Here the directing is a collaboratory effort between Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (This is both filmmakers’ first credit as director). The duo doesn’t really have much to do the entire film as the camera (and the story) remains mostly stationary. There’s not much action to worry about, and even in the film’s scarier/more hilarious moments the camera doesn’t really show too much. Instead, the directors focus on their characters and the dialogues that drive the film forward. There is a neat “film-within-a-film” sequence that is well handled and adds in a bit of goofiness to counter out all that serious apocalypse stuff. Unfortunately the lack of dynamic elements in the structure of the film and the inability of the duo to fasten together an engaging plot means that the film drags on at times and feels too confined. The directors rely on the comedy alone to keep the audience entertained, and for the most part, that is enough. Okay (7.2/10)
Special Effects/X-Factor: While the film does mostly take place indoors, there are some moments when special effects are required. After the apocalypse starts the entire film has a smoky fire and brimstone look to it that is effective but feels low budget. Similarly there are some “hellish” beasts that terrorize the cast and they too are effective enough to do their job. This being primarily a high-concept comedy, it is somewhat excusable that the special effects are just so so. The X-factor of this film will really depend on how those other two apocalypse-comedies fare. If those films get poor reviews this one may be remembered fondly. If it’s the other way around, this could get lost in the crowd. Still, it has enough good quality material to stand on its own as a solid Rogen-Goldberg effort. Good (7.8/10)
Rating: (8.1/10) = B- (A Must See)
· What’s Good: That crude humor that Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen are best known for is here in droves and will keep you laughing, celebrities making fun of themselves is always fun to watch, and the comedy concept is entertaining and new.
· What’s Bad: The film’s concept wears itself thin about halfway through, the often obscene comedy is not for everyone, and the movie suffers from some self-indulgences.
Verdict: This end of the world is funny, but kind of annoying.