An original and inventive comedy that has some great laughs . . .
STARRING: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson
2013, 107 Minutes, Directed by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
If all you know about Hollywood is what you read in the gossip columns and celebrity magazines you may be under the impression that everyone in the business knows each other. Not only that, they’re all friends and party together, usually at wild orgies involving sex, alcohol and drugs. This is the End plays directly into that fantasy by getting a bunch of younger stars (and would-be stars) together for a party at the house of actor James Franco (played by the actor himself). Then things start getting weird.
The idea is that Seth Rogen hasn’t seen his friend Jay Baruchel in a while. They head back to Seth’s house to smoke a lot of weed, and then head over to the party. Jay’s not happy with this. He doesn’t like California and he doesn’t like Seth’s new friends, particularly Jonah Hill who is always saying nice things about Jay although Jay doesn’t believe it. For the first part of the film, Jay is complaining about this state of affairs. Then the apocalypse hits.
People are beamed up into the sky. Fiery pits open up. Demons emerge. It’s not pretty. The survivors of the party are Franco, Hill, Rogen, Baruchel and Craig Robinson. Then Danny McBride shows up and starts screwing everything up. There are many bizarre twists in store before film’s end – including which actors survive – but it’s best to go in not knowing.
What you do need to know in advance it this. This an original and inventive comedy that has some great laughs in contrast to horror shows like Identify Thief and The Hangover, Part III. On the other hand, some of the jokes are in the worst possible taste from what fluids they drink when they run out of water to a moronic rape joke involving Emma Watson. On the latter let it be said that the joke is about NOT raping her, that she unquestionably gets the last laugh, and that she is developing a very interesting post-Harry Potter career.
A lot of the humor is of the “take no prisoners” sort, and Rogen – who co-wrote and co-directed – does not spare himself. There are repeated snarky remarks about his box office bomb The Green Hornet. Other actors also get hit, with talk about a sequel to the Franco/Rogen Pineapple Express and McBride’s Your Highness. Even Hill’s mainstream success as a supporting player in Moneyball gets tweaked.
One gets a sense that these guys really are friends and they made This is the End for the same reason Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack made the original Ocean’s Eleven. They thought it would be fun. If it takes the end of the world and unleashing the spawn of hell to do it, so be it, as long as there are some laughs along the way.
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide has just been released. He lives in Somerville.