This is the End is an apocalyptic comedy film where James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson all portray fictional characters of themselves as they are forced to face the true meaning of friendship and redemption as the world ends around them. Does that sound stupid to you or what? Well, it certainly does/did to me. When I first saw the trailer to this one I was COMPLETELY stupefied. I was like really? However, a critic must remain open minded and whenever possible check all emotions and biases toward a feature at the door and judge the film accordingly in regards to merit, story, structure, characters, resolutions, themes, acting, etc. So in a nutshell, that’s exactly what I did here. I locked up all animosity I had towards this project and tossed the key out my driver’s window before I walked into Monday night’s press screening. I hoped to be at least mildly surprised like I was with last month’s After Earth, but I wasn’t going to put the chicken before the egg either. I’m all for mediocracy here, isn’t that sad?
This is the End is the directorial debut of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The film is based on Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, a short film created by Rogen and Jay Baruchel in 2007. It’s also gone through quite the many title changes that I’m confident we can just skip over here in this summary as I doubt many people care. In addition to the stars I mentioned above, viewers are also greeted with appearances by favorites such as Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Jason Segel, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and many more that I will keep spoiler free.
So here’s the deal. I’m not much of Danny McBride fan. And while I’m opening up to you all, I hated with all my heart, Seth and Franco’s body of work known as Pineapple Express. That was a case where the trailer completely sold me on something I thought I was going to like, but the actual film, in my opinion, was complete utter shite. I know I’m in the minority here, but I just cannot stand movies about pot smoking and being stoned. I can’t stand it in the real world and I definitely don’t want to subject myself to it on the big screen either. So in other words, I was going into this press screening tonight (Monday) with two strikes against, not to mention how much I despise the thought of these characters portraying real life versions of themselves to an extent. Things were not looking up for me I guess you could say.
The shocker is…I actually was able to have fun with This Is The End. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I didn’t laugh nearly as hard as some of the moviegoers did and I’m not going to praise it as high as my reviewer counterparts are, but the simple fact that I was able to enjoy myself, for the most part, says something…at least I’m pretty sure it does. It was rude, crude and unapologetic just like a “good” Seth Rogen movie should be. No, it wasn’t a sequel to Pineapple Express, but I’d be lying if it didn’t come pretty damn close at times. What really reeled me in, with the addition of the fine Sabbath tracks, was the final Act. The fun and games of Act 2 seemed long and never-ending at times and I often found myself wondering how the hell they were going to tie this all together or are they even going to bother to try because of how ludicrous it got at times. But by golly they did it! They crafted a fine fairy tale ending, just like in The 40-Year Old Virgin, that made me want to get up, rejoice and boogie. There’s nothing like leaving a bleak apocalypse movie with a smile on your face and a little extra rhythm in your step. If you can have that effect on me, then you had me at hello in my book.
It was a blast to see Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen reunited and after the first 20 minutes or so the nostalgia and awkwardness of everyone calling themselves by their real first and last names kind of wore off. And believe me…that’s a good thing! That meant I was able to treat this like a real movie, albeit not a serious one, and settle into things without wondering is that how James Franco really is in real life or is this really his house. I didn’t care after awhile. All I cared about was having as good as time as I could with the gang and where this narrative was going.
So let me break it down the only way I know how to. Will I buy this movie on Blu-ray? No. Will I review it if offered to me? Yes. Does this wish washy answer make it a bad movie? No! Here’s the thing. Listen up because it’s important. When you go into a movie like this it’s an acquired taste. I truly believe that. Yes, I was a little biased going in and yes there are references to Pineapple Express (God how I hate that movie), but I was able to see past all the dark clouds and enjoy myself for a 100 minutes and that’s all that counts when you go to the movies, right? We all want to escape real life whenever possible so if penis, Michael Cera and Emma Watson rape jokes don’t bother you, then I’d say a Rated-R trip to the cinema looks bright in your future this week. And you’re in luck! You don’t have to wait until the weekend! This Is The End opens today on a Wednesday! You weren’t doing anything tonight anyway, were you? Man of Steel doesn’t open for another day. Get to it!