Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson
Running time: 107 minutes
Release Date: June 28
Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen turn the insanity levels up to the max in This Is the End, a bizarre OTT apocalypse comedy that boasts enough talent in its supporting cast to cater for a variety of tastes.
Jay Baruchel flies into LA to spend the weekend with his buddy Seth Rogen and the pair decide to stop by James Franco’s house, where a huge party is underway. But just as things begin to get wild the revellers are stopped in their tracks by a gigangtic disturbance outside. The ground cracks open, lights beam down from the sky to beam random people upwards, buildings collapse, cars crash and before long half the city is up in flames while many of its inhabitants perish. Only a handful remain at Franco’s, and they decide to barricade themselves inside the house until help arrives. They must make do with what provisions they have and hope that they do not meet their demise on what may or may not be humanity’s day of reckoning.
Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to This Is the End—it’s not the type of movie to walk in blind to, because the plot development is so outlandish that it stretches credulity to the limits. Of course, from directors Goldberg and Rogen’s point of view, that is the whole point. They make the conventions of apocalypse movies their playthings, and adopt an anarchic approach in order to set their effort apart.
There’s an added novelty factor in that all the actors play themselves, allowing the directors to poke fun at the shallowness and self-interest that governs relations between many of the folks in Tinseltown. Golberg said they wanted to do ‘something like The Larry Sanders Show or Curb Your Enthusiasm, only crazier’. Which is fine, but hardly groundbreaking—the former first aired way back in 1992, while the later arrived on HBO in 2000.
Rihanna is amongst the guests at the party, and a bad-ass Emma Watson makes a big impression, but the cast is predominantly male. Cue much talk about recreational drugs, masturbation and pornography. Rogen is one of the more balanced characters, taking a back seat in order to allow his contemporaries to shine. Jonah Hill gets a lot of attention, and his supposed insincerity is amusing—as is his diamond stud earring. But it is Danny McBride who owns this one with his straight-talking, combustible persona. McBride’s performance is much in keeping with the spirit of This Is the End, and he and Franco enjoy some memorable exchanges as they repeatedly get on the wrong side of one another.
This Is the End is a buddy movie at heart, though that part is not handled particularly well—Baruchel and Rogen are the only ones who seem to have a truly established relationship, and there’s nothing remarkable in the way that it plays out. Most of the action takes place within the four walls of Franco’s house, which becomes tedious after a while. But there’s still a lot to admire—the apocalyptic scenes outside are incredibly well done, there are plenty of laughs to go round, the cast is top-notch and the directors’ off-the-wall approach gives it a fun feel. It is probably too ridiculous for some—it certainly isn’t the smartest comedy ever made—but there are worse ways to while away a couple of hours.