Friday, June 21, 2013

This is the End

Get out your baseball bats and Milky Ways, we're reviewing This is the End!

When Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel) comes to visit Seth Rogen (Seth Rogen) in L.A., they attend a party at James Franco (James Franco)'s house, despite Jay's reluctance. But when Hell breaks loose (literally), he, Seth, and a group of others will have to band together to survive the apocalypse. 

Yeah, it's pretty funny.

When you talk to people and read the reviews, going in you expect This is the End to be the second coming of Shaun of the Dead. And maybe that's my fault for expecting too much. But it's only pretty funny. It is funny, I'm not knocking it, but it's not burst-out-loud-laughing, jokes-every-five-minutes, can't-get-breathe-from-all-the-crying hilarious. 

What is fascinating is how much of a pretty great straightforward end of the world survival movie it is, but from the viewpoint of a few Hollywood comedians. The production values are surprisingly high and it's crazy where they eventually take it. It's odd how much I like creature designs in a Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill comedy, but there you go.

All of the actors' performances are pretty great. It's weird; I almost want them to win awards for playing themselves so well. It is a ton of fun seeing Seth bullshit around and smoke weed, or  James Franco get artsy and weird, or Danny McBride pull some serious dick moves, or even Jonah Hill dish out his super-nice attitude to everyone. It's also great how many cameos there are, and how far they go with them. I wish there were more – that the whole movie could be them going through the burning Hollywood hills and running into famous actors in stereotypical apocalypse roles – but the cameos that are there are surprising and ridiculous. Michael Cera and Emma Watson are just the tip of the cameo iceberg. I'm borderline shocked Tenacious D didn't make any kind of appearance.

It's an interesting story about friendship, growing up, and selling out. Some stuff, before everything hits the fan, with just Rogen and Baruchel hanging out in L.A. is interesting to watch. I would watch more of it. Most of the story is about their friendship growing apart, and how they deal with it. It is decidedly a guy movie about guys and their guy friends. Rhianna and Emma Watson are the only major female roles, and they don't get to do much other than pop up and quickly disappear so everyone can get back to the dick jokes. And they still managed to have the end-of-the-world-6-guys-1-girl-raping debate while not having any women for most of the picture. So… not a great flick for women. 

They go through all the major staples of the biblical apocalypse, even going so far as to show the afterlife (not saying which one). It's all fun, and it's interesting to see how straight-out-of-the-book it is, but I can't help thinking it would have been more interesting and amusing if they had played with those apocalyptic expectations instead of enacting them straight. What if demons weren't that bad? What if the 7-headed dragon meant something entirely different? What if hell wasn't that bad and heaven wasn't that great? What if it was a mix of different apocalypses, like running into Ragnarok and also zombies? Seems like a missed opportunity. 

In any case, the important part of the movie is a bunch of actors goofing on themselves and each other as if it were the end of days, and that's pretty fun. It could have easily been messed up or done poorly, but it's a pretty well-made comedy.

THE GOOD: Funny, actors playing themselves is fun, great creature effects, fun apocalypse stuff.

THE BAD: Not hilarious, not enough women, could have played with biblical stuff more. 

THE VERDICT: $$$$ Pretty funny! Go watch it! Not that much staying power, but still a fun film.

MOVIES LIEK IT: 21 Jump Street, Pineapple Express, Your Highness, End of Days, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny

ONE SCENE-METAPHOR: One of their party members gets possessed by a demon and they decide to have an exorcism, using The Exorcism as a kind of guidebook. It's pretty funny, but still straightforward stuff.

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