Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have created a film that maintains a steady comedic ride that never lets up.
This Is the End
Why on earth would this post-modern feminist put a crass, self-referential, bro-mantic apocalypse film in her top 5 of the year (thus far)? Because Seth Rogen and super side-kick Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express), hit it on the head with this film. Everything’s been done before. Stoner comedy. Check. Apocalyptic bromance. Check. Crazy amounts of cameos. Check. A healthy dose of celebrity voyeurism? Wait a second boys, I think you may be on to something.
From scene one in this film as Seth Rogen waits at the airport for his buddy from Canada, Jay Baruchel, to arrive for a visit, it’s apparent Seth is, well, real-life Seth. “Give us your trademark Seth Rogen laugh” an asshole with a camera at the airport chides. And he does, establishing that yep, he can turn it on and turn it up, and you’re going to eat it up. Seth takes Jay home and its established Jay isn’t a big fan of LA and it’s pompous Hollywood types. So the two stay home for gaming and smoking, until Seth throws out that maybe they pop over to James Franco‘s housewarming party. Jay is hesitant, they aren’t his crowd, and they represent Seth’s new Hollywood life.
They go anyway. Cameo after cameo of young Hollywood comedic actors pop up. Hello, Craig Robinson. Hello, Jonah Hill. Hello, Micheal Cera (busily casting off any semblance of George Michael Bluth by baring his ass while receiving “favors” from another party guest and blowing coke into peoples faces; not unlike a few of his other films coming out this year, ahem, Crystal Fairy and Magic Magic). Hello, Mindy Kaling. Hello, Aziz Ansari. Hello, Rihanna? Ok, who invited her?
Yes, it’s exaggerated, but it all just feels somewhat likely. For all we know these actors have weekly ragers at Franco’s house. Eventually Jay feels a bit stifled by Seth’s new group, and the two walk to the store for munchies. Queue the apocalypse, or as Jay will later devise, the Rapture, complete with blue light sucking the enlightened into heaven. Jay and Seth make it back to Franco’s house in time for most of the party to die via sinkhole in James’s front yard (or Cera by even more hilarious means) and Jay, Seth, James, Craig, and Jonah manage to survive and horde themselves into Franco’s house, immediately fortifying it with duck tape and barring the doors with Franco’s eclectic art collection as protection. Danny McBride shows up shortly thereafter, an oblivious and unwelcome member of the group.
The film is endlessly hilarious and it seems to manage this with the perfect amount of self-awareness. The actors trash talk each other in their tell-all room camera and we think, yeah, I bet Danny McBride is a pain in the ass. And when they sit around the dinner table describing just how difficult it is to be an actor because sometimes you have to pretend it’s hot, when it’s really freezing cold, it’s funny because as comedic actors (ironically, all who are now taking on much more serious roles, Jonah Hill is Oscar-nominated for Pete’s sake) we’d possibly expect them to be so shallow. One of the more hilarious bits is when Emma Watson shows up and the guys sabotage her stay by being overly sensitive to her role as a woman. In fact the lack of sexist jokes is worth noting.
In This is the End, during which I literally slapped my thigh and gasped for air at numerous times, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have created a film that maintains a steady comedic ride that never lets up. A feat I’d consider much more difficult than tugging at my heartstrings. As each of these actors recognizes they weren’t “good” enough to make it up to heaven and attempts to make up for that, we wonder in earnest about their fate. If living in sin is as funny as they make it out to be, could being good people possibly be as hilarious? It could. It can. It is.