Title: This is the End
Genre(s): Comedy, Action
Director(s): Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Release Year: 2013
There’s no denying that we are all obsessed with celebrity culture. So much so that we demand seeing beyond the spotlight and witnessing stars doing boring, mundane things. There are the celebrities who just want to be left alone, and then there are the ones who crave the spotlight at all times, reveling in their successes. If This is the End‘s comedic sketch of the Apocalypse is trying to say anything of merit, it’s that being a celebrity is a one-way ticket to Hell. But what a fun and enjoyable ride it is, right? Well, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg show that it might be an exciting time to live like a celebrity, but it doesn’t come without consequences. However, it wouldn’t be a Rogen and Goldberg collaboration if we didn’t get to spend an hour with all of their friends, as they try to piece together what exactly is happening in the Hollywood Hills, while entertaining themselves and trying to stay alive.
Enter Jay Baruchel, who may be a celebrity but is nowhere near as famous as his fellow Canadian Seth Rogen. When he arrives in Los Angeles to hang out with Seth, he ends up being dragged to James Franco’s house in the Hollywood Hills for a party, much to his dismay. Jay isn’t exactly comfortable with celebrity culture, and subsequently, he dislikes many of Seth’s new friends like Franco, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill. When a massive sinkhole opens up right outside Franco’s house and consumes almost everyone at Franco’s party, there isn’t much that they can do but lock themselves in his house until help arrives. Sure enough, Danny McBride joins the group of stars, after having slept through the mayhem that happened the night before, and now the group tries to survive and keep strong while they try to figure out whether this is an alien invasion, the apocalypse, or just one really long acid trip.
The interesting thing here is that everyone is playing themselves, adding another layer to the self-depreciating humor. Everyone is making fun of each other, and some like Hill and Franco are playing exaggerated preconceptions of themselves (such as Hill acting better than everyone because he is in award-worthy dramas). It is a fun premise that works well in execution and brings together a great cast of Rogen’s friends, and some people who have never appeared in Rogen films before, such as Rihanna and Emma Watson. Particular highlights are Michael Cera and two cameos that happens later on, but the real strength of This is the End is the chemistry between the six lead actors, who bring their bro-mances and improvisational skills to the forefront.
It is probably safe to say that most people seeing This is the End will be going because it’s a comedy with Seth Rogen and all of his friends, but the attack on celebrity culture and relationship between Baruchel and Rogen actually keeps the film from just being a collection of sketches. It is how Rogen and Goldberg make their relationship become about being a celebrity and how that changes your life, which is what works so well. Unfortunately, this film could have had 10 minutes shaved off its runtime at least, if it didn’t spend so much time on certain gags, like a particular argument between McBride and Franco, which runs on for way too long and runs the joke into the ground. However, when that final act gets started and budget constraints are seemingly ignored, the plot moves at a frantic pace and the film goes to ambitious lengths for a comedy. The meandering in the beginning leads to a nicely paced escalation towards the climax of the film, and nothing feels out of reach for a film that was previously making jokes about bodily fluids and how The Green Hornet was terrible.
This is the End has everything you would expect from an apocalypse-set film, hitting on every note from The Lord of the Flies that you would anticipate being included and then going the extra mile for the third act of the movie. And when the movie goes to those lengths, Brandon Trost’s camerawork shines (seriously, have you all checked out The FP yet?), with the right mix of shadows and lighting to create a dark atmosphere that you could only witness during the end of the world. The cast is still there to anchor the movie in humor and let it be serious, funny, and absurd. It’ll be interesting to see how Edgar Wright’s The World’s End feels in comparison to this film, but I have a feeling it won’t go to the extremes that This is the End does, making this movie one of the comedies to definitely go see this summer.