Fri
Jun 14 2013 1:00pm

My Only Friends, the End: This Is the End

This Is the End

This is probably a moot point, as all of you are going to be seeing Man of Steel this weekend, but there’s a terrifically fun picture playing (in North America; it opens the 28th worldwide) called This Is The End. It’s the funniest thing Seth Rogen’s done in years, and a fine directing debut for him and his longtime writing partner Evan Goldberg. Their previous collaborations have featured some awkward moments with genre—The Green Hornet and The Pineapple Express were both close to being good and were quite appealing in places but suffered from artificial plotting—but This Is The End, with the exception of a minor lull in the middle, is a much smoother ride. It’s one of the better apocalypse movies, to say nothing of apocalypse comedies, in a long time, and it is this because of its characters.

As seen in the trailer, there’s a wrinkle there: Rogen plays himself (or, more accurately, “himself”), as does nearly every other actor in the movie with a speaking role. There are a lot of popular actors—from frequent Rogen collaborators like Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, and (the best of the bunch) Jay Baruchel, to a number of surprising appearances that are best left unrevealed for now—having a lot of fun with their public personae. The premise is very simple: Baruchel comes to Los Angeles to visit his old pal and fellow Canadian, Rogen. After smoking a lot of weed together, Rogen tells Baruchel about a party at James Franco’s house, and practically has to drag him there. After a bit of very funny celebrity satire business, the world begins to come to an end. Woo-hoo!

Once society as we’ve known it collapses, the movie’s structure does too, a bit. The surviving actors hole up in James Franco’s house and ride out the (largely unseen) chaos beyond. They do not do so calmly. This is the part of the picture that drags a bit, while both actors and audience are essentially waiting for something to happen. As the actors are too scared to venture outside, they have no way of figuring out the exact nature of the calamity that’s befallen Los Angeles (and whether that calamity extends to the world beyond, though as good Angelenos their conception of a world beyond the city remains charmingly hypothetical). But, once they figure out what’s going on out there, the pace immediately picks back up and carries This Is The End through to a pretty near perfect (and completely unexpected) ending.

Since comedy is even more spoil-able than plot, I’ll not go into any detail, nor will I repeat any of the jokes. What can be said about the humor itself is, while it’s in sublimely poor taste, it still derives from a fundamentally good-natured place. What can be said about the story, without giving away particulars as to how this is so, is that it (eventually) presents a surprisingly (if irreverent and a bit crude) positive view of religion—a kind of broad, it’s-all-good-man (i.e. stoned) ecumenically Judeo-Christian ethos.

When all is (profanely) said and (messily) done, This Is The End is a comedy before all else, but it also functions perfectly well as religious/apocalyptic SF. It’s very clever with genre conventions, specifically, as this is an apocalypse picture, with regard to who dies and when. (That, by the way, is not a spoiler: you can’t make an apocalypse without breaking a few eggs.) And the parts that are funny are really funny. I can’t stress that enough. There are a couple cameos—one that featured prominently in the red-band trailer, one completely-out-of-nowhere one near the end—that are just side-splitting.

Hopefully This Is The End won’t be completely submerged by the Kryptonian juggernaut this weekend and beyond, as it would be a shame for it to go unseen. Do seek it out if you like a good laugh, and if you want to see a truly bold ending. Or just for Jay Baruchel. That guy’s awesome.


Danny Bowes is a New York City-based film critic and blogger.

12 comments
David Thomson
1. ZetaStriker
I actually don't even play to see the new Superman movie yet; the character is incredibly boring to me, and even if this seems a better take on him than most it's still a Superman movie at heart. This is the End, however, is high on my must-see list.
lalo
2. lalo
I saw This is the End last night with my siblings (and my dad, who did not do his research beyond 'James Franco is in it! I loved him in 127 Hours!' we're surprised dad survived the night actually). Overall I agree--its a great Apocalypse-Comedy and let me tell you how happy my brother and I were that they averted the ending we THOUGHT they were headed towards.
This is surprisingly the only movie I can honestly say I liked the cast in. I like Franco and Rogen well enough, but I've never been a Danny McBride or Jay Baruchel fan.

And oh man when that sudden appearance at the end happened my sister and I were clapping and really getting into the spirit of it just like it was 1999 XD
Bobby Stubbs
3. Valan
The part when they are all holed up in James Franco's house didn't drag for me, I was too busy laughing to care too much about what kind of apocalypse they were getting. On a sheer laughter scale comedies don't get better than this. This movie is awesome.
lalo
4. wingracer
I love a good comedy but it has been many years since I saw one I actually cared about. This film has me very interested. Everyone that's seen it seems to just love it. I just may have to make this the first comedy I have seen in the theater since Something About Mary (unless you include Cabin in the Woods as comedy, that was fun).
Jeremy Goff
5. JeremyM
I saw this yesterday afternoon and it was way better than I thought it would ever be. It was one of the most genuinely funny things I've seen in a long time. Easily my favorite Seth Rogen movie. The amount of cameos in this is ridiculous. My favorite I have to say though is Michael Cera. I really can't recommend this movie enough. If the choice was to go see Superman for the 1st time or go see this again, my choice, would be to definitely go see this again.
Matt Stoumbaugh
6. LazerWulf
Is it just me, or does the lens flare over Franco's hand make it look like he's got an Iron Man Repulsor?
Tabitha Jensen
7. pabkins
Whatever! I am so watching This is the End, this weekend instead of Man of Steel! haha priorities people!
Joanne Center
8. thegloop
I thought the movie was a total blast. I was amazed what they were able to get away with, having a relatively small budget. I laughed out loud a lot! Seth Rogan is just such a likeable guy, and I found this directoral debut to be affable and really sweet, which is saying a lot for a movie full of dick jokes. My god that bit at the end with the gimp I don't know if I laughed so hard in a long time. I actually really liked Pineapple Express and I thought this was a worthy "sequel" of sorts.
lalo
9. Jerun
"Hermione stole all our shit!"
lalo
10. Disturbingfurniture
We skipped (and plan to totally skip) Superman...whent he trailers put you to sleep...and we saw this. Totally fantastic. Funny all the way through. Great script. It's hard to play yourself--or a version thereof--and everyone pulled it off. Even great special effects and monster creations. Definitely SHOULD have won the box office for the weekend.
Derek Broughton
11. auspex
I too love a good comedy. Loved Jay Baruchel in The Trotsky. Unfortunately, This is the End was only intermittently funny, and the bits that were funny were juvenile.
lalo
12. ClovieD
By far one of the best movies i've seen. It can't top Iron Man or The Lost Boys, but it is included now in my all time favorites. i don't think i've ever laughed out loud at a theater before, but this had me! i love Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Seth Rogan so i was really looking forward to this. i've recommended it to everyone, and will definitely see it again, and buy it as soon as it's on Blu-ray.

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