Movie Review: This is the End
Pros:This is essential viewing for your development as a person.
Cons:This is entirely disposable viewing for your development as a person.
A group of Hollywood elite and Rihanna find themselves at James Franco’s house warming when the apocalypse happens.
‘This is the End’ is blatantly rubbish, but it is also pretty brilliant. Certainly the best thing put out by the Franco-Rogen-Hill et al. posse (do they have a title, can I christen then here as, ‘The Stoner Set’?) since Superbad, the movie succeeds in meshing all out crude toilet humour with currents of sentiment that seems to be their niche.
The issue with every bit of output since Superbad has been the new depths of humour (not in any layered way, just that the jokes clamour further down into the sewers) are not matched by the humanity or quality of story. (That, and no one likes Danny McBride). True to form, there is an outright health warning attached to this movie – every orifice, bodily function and act of violation gets a look-in. You know the names, you know the shtick – there will be offense, some or all of it working, but crucially the heart to match the humour is in good shape. When these two elements work in tandem you get the magic of Superbad or indeed any good comedy. This is the End goes some way towards being the full package.
This time around the set-up is fairly high concept, though executed with the sophistication of a drunk monkey, as the group get laced with every drink/drug combo possible and then sober up enough to react horribly to the apocalyptic day of reckoning going-on outside. Before resolving to get hammered again. Obviously.
The movie sets itself no great challenge in creating characters. Early on there is a joke that Rogen has played himself in every movie: here everyone plays their namesakes. With this the third bow to the movie is constructed – again it feels wrong to use verbs, adjectives or really, even whole words, that might suggest dimension to the movie – nevertheless, for a time, particularly early in the film as a litany of well-known faces mill around a soon-to-be-doomed party in James Franco’s house, celebrity gets a good bashing. Everyone is having good fun and more than willing to be the butt of a joke. Michael Cera take a bow. This pillorying of their image is the movies strength and takes events away from being a timid re-hash of what went before. (See: Your Highness. Or, rather, don’t.) Sadly the movie is missing a gag about Franco’s Oscar hosting.
The post-postmodern vibe of the film (ask James Franco) is best captured in a scene where Rogen and Franco haggardly, drunkenly, concoct a crazy plot for a sequel to Pineapple Express - we may very well be getting an insight into how the plot (I can’t emphasise enough how loosely words are applied here) for This is the End came about. These boys may be the luckiest in the world that someone sees fit to give them money to turn their ganga ramblings into movies that you can’t help but love.
Somehow the movie fills its running time despite barely leaving the confines of Franco’s LA pad, now a barricaded refuge, and things keeps a pace before proceeding to a finale that any self-respecting millennial pop fan will smile at bemusedly. The value of friendship is neatly inserted to give proceedings stature, had it been absent there would still be huge amounts of fun to be had – this is a better movie for trying though. All in, this is not even on the horizon of respectable, but to those of us that enjoy this type of movie, seek it out.