Review: This Is the End (2013) — Apocalypse is the Perfect Occasion for Improv Comedy

This Is the End

What we have here is possibly the most brilliant high-concept pitch ever conceived for a comedy: What would happen if a ragtag collection of popular comedians — all playing themselves — were trapped together in James Franco‘s mansion as the apocalypse rages outside? This is exactly what you get with This Is The End, from the writing and, for the first time, directing combination of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (Superbad, Knocked Up, The Green Hornet).

This Is The End does a fantastic job of taking the personalities of these real-life stars and either embellishing or subverting them. The

Pants-Off-A-Clypse! (sorry)

Pants-Off-A-Clypse! (sorry)

relationship of Jay Baruchel (She’s Out Of My League, Goon) and Seth Rogen takes centre stage as Baruchel, well-known for eschewing the Hollywood lifestyle in favour of a permanent residence in Canada, comes down to visit his buddy Rogen. The pair’s chemistry is, as you would expect, natural; as are the relationships of all the core cast. It makes it easier for the audience to relate to the film when the actors are clearly at ease with one-another and obviously had a blast filming it.

The duo head to a housewarming party held by Franco, which is chock-full of a large selection of Hollywood’s current comedy crop (plus Rihanna). The movie impresses alone in the sheer number of celebrities that appear in these scenes, and it’s a veritable game of Where’s Wally with famous faces, including Jason Segel, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, Paul Rudd, and Kevin Hart. The scene stealer during these early scenes is Michael Cera, contradicting his public persona by playing a coked up party animal.

When the inevitable mayhem ensues, we are left with the core cast of Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill (evidently, the nicest guy alive), Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride. For a movie with such loose improvisation, there is a shockingly large number of individual character arcs and narrative threads at play, keeping the audience engaged and giving the non-stop barrage of jokes an emotional anchor.

Home Alone face = This Is The End of Macaulay Culkin's career.

Home Alone face = This Is The End of Macaulay Culkin’s career.

Apart from the raging Armageddon — which plays a larger part in the third act — the main antagonist throughout a large portion of the film is natural heel Danny McBride, who steals many scenes as a self-centred, mean and conniving bastard intent on self-preservation. Anyone who has seen McBride’s HBO series Eastbound & Down will attest to the actors innate charisma as an egotistical asshole, and he is a force-of-nature in every appearance.

Knowledge of the previous films produced by Goldberg/Rogen is essential, as this is a movie made specifically for fans the pair’s oeuvre. Some of the greatest moments come in the form of disparaging remarks at the expense of Your Highness, jokes about Rogen’s famous laugh, a reunion of the three male leads of Superbad, or a delightful scene where the now-bored survivors film a homemade sequel to Pineapple Express; non-fans would be missing half the jokes and references. As is to be expected, the humour expressed throughout is on the high end of crass and the violence, while played of entertainment and laughs, is also extreme. If anyone ever wondered, the giant demons in this film are fully naked and are packing a Michael Fassbender level of hardware.

This Is The End is one of the best experiences I’ve had with a comedy in many years. The self-referential humour is relentless and the entertainment factor is high. But it is an extremely violent and cuss-heavy film which is sure to offend many people in one way or another. Despite this, it is a brilliant self-reflective and charming film, with many positive moral messages about friendship, sacrifice, and the afterlife.

Demon cock. It’s also about demon cock.

Llama Score: 8This is the typical humour seen in any of the Apatow-crew films produced since The 40-Year Old Virgin, but the unique, high-concept setting of This Is The End certainly makes it inimitable; and it will go down as one of the more audacious, riotous films of the era. This is a great deal of fun and recommended to anyone with a large enough funny-bone, as long as they are not easily offended.

Award: Golden Llama

Highlights Banner

Pineapple Express 2.

– An extended exchange between Franco and McBride about cumming.

– A final dance number.

Lowlights Banner

– Prior knowledge of Rogen/Goldberg’s films is essential.

– Lack of female characters (Emma Watson‘s appearance is too brief).

Further Viewing Banner

Pineapple Express

– Superbad

– Your Highness

Directed by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg Produced by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver Starring: Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson Distributed by: Columbia Pictures Run length: 106 minutes Australian Release: 18 July 2013
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  1. The Best Films of 2013 | Sorry I'm

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