Reel Matt

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This is the End

Film #334


While attending a party at James Franco’s house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse.

Year 1, Day 334

BEFORE: It’s time for another one of those advanced screenings. This is the End, the upcoming comedy from the mind of Seth Rogen and company, stars a whole bunch of celebrities as themselves. The story itself doesn’t look all that grand but the cast really has me hooked and interested to see how everything plays out. At the very least I’m sure it will provide some laughs.

AFTER: As far as apocalyptic films go, I don’t think I’ve seen a more literal one than This is the End. Most of these films that I’ve seen are more of a general display of poor conditions. No electricity, scarce food, people turned to savages. This is the End is literally the end, as in the Book of Revelations end. Fire and brimstone, devil on Earth, mass chaos and hysteria. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Seth Rogen film without gratuitous childish jokes that are funny at times, but then overstay their welcome.

The most interesting aspect about this film is the fact that there are a whole bunch of actors who are playing “themselves”. While somewhat similar to their actual personas, all the characters are dramatized. And what a range of people they got for this film. In the beginning it felt like every five seconds you saw another famous face. From Jason Segel to Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling to Rihanna; the list just goes on. Most of the dramatization was through exaggeration, or in the case of Michael Cera, a reversal of roles. Michael Cera was probably the best cameo appearance in the film because he plays someone so unlike what we know him as, and yet, everyone in the film (and audience) still hates him. Other notable guest appearances include the lovely, and ruthless, Emma Watson, a small role by Channing Tatum, and a surprise musical guest. Most of the great performances are found in these smaller cameo roles, but of the leads, the best are Danny McBride and Jonah Hill. McBride especially was responsible for the majority of real funny jokes as opposed to the shameless easy laughs from acting like children (more on that in a bit). I think the reason I liked McBride so much (and Hill to a lesser extent) is that they were blatantly honest about what they said. They held nothing back as opposed to masking it behind dick, pot, and sex jokes.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the humor. As much as I’m going to knock it, I did laugh quite a bit and there were some gems hidden throughout. But the majority of jokes rely on bodily actions, parts, and illicit substances. To me, it’s like watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and laughing every time you see a guy kicked in the balls or someone run into a pole. Yes, it’s funny (because you’re not the one getting injured) but there’s also no substance. It’s not really a joke that requires thought, it’s just empty laughs. The same is true here. In every scene (at least it feels like every scene), there’s a least one mention of weed, other drugs, someone else’s dick, and, what they can do with it. So yes, this does produce laughs, but if you asked me to recall one specific example right now, I couldn’t do it. Except in the case where they go completely overboard, a prime example being James Franco’s porn. There’s a good two to three minutes of Franco and McBride going back and forth, saying the same thing over and over I might add, about how the magazine is soiled. The first few lines delivered that easy laugh, but then it just got old and repetitive.

So it comes to this, the end of the review. Of all the words I could pick to describe this film, interesting would have to be the one. Having the actors play themselves, or at least versions of themselves, along with the literal, and vivid, interpretation of the apocalypse was certainly a sight to behold. While it’s not the best story, This is the End does have some good parts. The same for the humor. Behind a bunch of garbage, there are a few great jokes that really make you laugh. It’s not a must-see movie, but the next time you have a few friends over and nothing better to do, This is the End will surely provide some entertainment.

This is the End opens in theaters on June 12, 2013.

RATING: 3 out of 5