Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.
Release Date: June 12th, 2013 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen Actors: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson
ans of “Pineapple Express” and “Your Highness” will rejoice at the familiar humor and dark comedy pervading “This Is the End.” For everyone else, it’s clear that the creators of this latest end-of-the-world farce have learned little from the mistakes of such preceding endeavors, as virtually every pratfall and shortcoming is repeated in spades. The clever ideas and amusing cameos start as just that, yet “This Is the End” imprudently barrels forward with each mirthful moment and heedlessly disregards judicious restraint until the sequence overstays its welcome and ceases to be witty. Many of the heavily improvisational conversations are the highlights of the film, with insults hurled at breakneck speeds and characters’ vices and faults exaggerated with cynical glee. Why the story stubbornly wanders towards twisted realms of pensive apocalyptic themes is a rather disappointing mystery.
During his time in Los Angeles, Jay Baruchel wants nothing more than a quiet and relaxing stay at his friend Seth Rogen’s place. But Seth insists upon dragging Jay to a wild party at actor James Franco’s new mansion where he urges his guest to try bonding with the likes of Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and more. Finding himself unable to connect with the judgmental and condescending attitudes of Rogen’s friends, Jay decides to leave the party only to be halted by an event of cataclysmic magnitude. Now, forced to take shelter in Franco’s home with a band of obnoxious survivors, Jay must figure out how to save everyone – or just save himself.
Whether they possess a large budget or a miniscule one, projects tend to suffer from too much control by a single person. In the case of “This Is the End,” a handful of people have entirely too much jurisdiction over the direction, resulting in a film in desperate need of an outside perspective and mindful editing. While Seth Rogen clearly wants his cast to extemporize and run away with a loose script, the plot regularly loses form and follows an uncomfortable spontaneity that, while providing unpredictability, also imparts nonsensical tangents that aren’t reeled in fast enough. A few raunchy conversations are perfectly outrageous; others drag until they’re numbing; and what starts as a hilarious premise rapidly unleashes a wealth of repugnant mockeries.
The most unique aspect of “This Is the End” is that all the actors are designed to play themselves. It’s a gimmick not utilized enough, despite cameos that supply creative balderdash. Michael Cera steals every scene he’s in by playing against type; Emma Watson is amusing simply because she chose to participate; and Danny McBride assumes the role of antagonist to incite the most sidesplitting exchanges (ranging from rape to masturbation to cannibalism as the gang deteriorates into a Donner Party/Lord of the Flies arrangement). The initial rollicking reality-TV styled introduction that visualizes a slice of Hollywood stoner celebrity life via a who’s who of Judd Apatow cast members is eventually abandoned for lampooning religion, fame, and righteousness – all of which are not inherently as funny as a more universally appealing substitute, like a zombie apocalypse or alien Armageddon. While the purpose is merely to garner laughs, especially through excessive attention to lewd dialogue, the more the silly plot overtakes racy conversations, the less engaging it becomes.
– The Massie Twins