jason stives celebrates the apocalypse …
This is the End, the new apocalyptic comedy written and directed by Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg, comes out at a time when the summer blockbuster comedy has been taking a bit of a beating. The comedy releases thus far have been less than stellar (being modest) and while there are one or two on tap for the remainder of the summer with potential, it hasn’t been the best time of times in the comedy world lately. This is the End isn’t trying to be the next best comedy but it does a rather good job (as of this byline) at being the most outrageous film of the summer even though the film peaks early.
The first 45 minutes breeze by without hesitation and part of this comes from the trailers for this film; they showcased pretty much all the best moments from the first half of the film. The various cameos that encompass the party at James Franco’s house are utilized well regardless of how brief they really are. Michael Cera takes the cake as a coked out, horn dog version of himself who completely breaks the stereotype that has befallen his awkward, shy guy exterior. Emma Watson, completely discarding her legacy as Hermione Granger, is absolutely hysterical here displaying the right level of fear and unintentional humor that has helped her break out into the mainstream beyond the world of Potter.
However, we aren’t here just for the quick cameos as we are for the main five of this film all playing incredibly exaggerated versions of themselves. Channeling these characters means having to devote enough care to each of their presence. The results tend to vary ,but for the most part they work to moving the plot along. Rogen and his best bud Jay Baruchel are the center pieces of the story, working through a friendship that has distanced itself from being truly healthy due to varying degrees of fame and fortune. It works very well and Baruchel, who deserves a lot more work than he seems to get, plays it up the best being sympathetic but much like the rest of the cast rather crude and selfish.
James Franco might as well have lifted his character straight from his own life playing some strange, art enthusiast with a pension for hording props from his movies. Danny McBride, while very entertaining, plays himself as you would expect but also uses the apocalypse as a way of capitalizing on some of the lesser fortunes of his career. Craig Robinson may have the most likable character in the film complete with a silly but amusing catch phrase but it’s the inner serial killer kindness of Jonah Hill that’s really the jewel here. Overly nice, and incredibly touchy-feely, he is the most likely to go nuts, and well, he does to say the least in great fashion giving the stand out performance of the film by being different.
The comedy comes on hard and fast and is incredibly crude, which is to be expected from these guys but sometimes it gets a bit rough. Gross out humor in general varies in overall taste but it’s one and the same. Someone having explosive diarrhea or having some kind of *cough cough* hair gel in their hair isn’t too far removed from some of the bodily fluids and phallic symbols on display in this film. The boys get their share of dick and fart humor on top of a kitchen sink full of sex jokes, some of which go on incredibly too long. It’s still funny, but at times it’s very uncomfortable because it occupies a majority of the dialogue. However, this is the kind of film going for the brash and over the top humor it displays. It does well on top of being a very clever and original premise.
However, there is a rather scatterbrain approach to This is the End that probably doesn’t help the final product. Besides the above mentioned overuse of some of the cruder humor, it’s painfully obvious this is their first time directing for Rogen and Goldberg. Visually the film seems to work on all cylinders, save for a rather poor looking hellhound, but what is probably the toughest thing is it’s a rather safe film for the cast. Since everyone is playing themselves to a degree, everyone uses their usual shtick which is split 50/50 on the effectiveness. The reason it’s easy to look pass this is the fact that these characters realize how lousy they really are as people when facing real danger. The notion of the rapture is a quick way to realizing where these characters go. It plays well of the actual celebrity myths that plague most of Hollywood and with this crew of comedic actors.
One can argue that This is the End feels like a film that came a few years too late considering the slow decline in the appeal of the Judd Apatow crew and their accompanying comedies. However, because most of what has been delivered lately has been so poor, this was the best medicine to handle that current void. You probably won’t see any other film like this this summer, I mean, how could you? What Rogen and Goldberg have crafted here is a kitchen sink, wacky comedy that while not perfect, will probably leave a better impression than most of the comedies that are on deck this summer.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pretty Good)