This week we take a look at the R-rated apocalyptic comedy, This is the End (R).
In the film a plethora of contemporary stars (Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel) basically play themselves as they attempt to survive a (mysterious) disaster. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen co-direct.
Ryan: The first act of this film is brilliant. The Hollywood satirical nature of the movie works on many levels and one is never quite sure if the lead players are playing themselves, playing a version of themselves or if they are just playing perceived versions of themselves. Whatever the case, seeing this cast (with some other stars—Michael Cera, Emma Watson and Rihanna to name a few) interact at a typical Hollywood party makes for some funny moments and for some insightful commentary.
The comedy market has been lackluster at best this year and the first thirty minutes of the film was laugh-out-loud funny. Unfortunately the rest of the movie, while it still has its moments, spirals into a run-of-the-mill horror movie that gets sillier and sillier as it progresses.
Andy: There is certainly something gimmicky about actors portraying versions of themselves in fictional movies. It is done sparingly enough that it usually pays off. This is the End brings enough comedic talent that the first half of the movie is wildly entertaining as the actors play with their persona. Jay Baruchel does a nice job playing the everyman through which the audience sees the Hollywood lifestyle, and special mention has to go to Michael Cera, whose version of himself is so absurd that it remains one of the film’s highlights.
Ryan: Going into the movie one knew that at some point the film was going to turn absurd. While I don’t have an issue with the more (arguably) subversive elements of the movie, the fact remains that the plot mechanism used to propel the narrative just isn’t that interesting. Regrettably, the humor takes a back seat to the minutia of dealing with the cataclysm. Obviously the intent of the film was not to be a complete diatribe of the lives of Hollywood stars, but I could have watched a whole movie based around Franco’s party.
Andy: The apocalyptic turn of events does steer the movie predictably out of control, and even turns it into a bit of a heavy-handed morality play. Understanding that the entire premise was based around the end of the world, I was surprised to see the last third of the movie turn into such a special effects-heavy version of the apocalypse. The first part of the movie strikes such a clever tone, that when it turns its attention to explosions and fire and away from the actors and performances that make the film worth watching, it ends up feeling a little disappointing.
Ryan: If one is a fan of the any of the major players in the movie, then I feel that one knows what they are getting into with watching this film. One will expect and get the R-rated themed humor. And I must say that even the appearance of the polarizing Danny McBride midway through the movie didn’t distract from the overall vibe of the film. I do have some issues with This is the End, but overall the movie does deliver the laughs.
This is the End delivers enough laughs to overcome a cumbersome ending.
Final grade: B.