I have a special place in my heart for movies that combine idiocy and brilliance without ever letting you figure out which is which. In recent years, no pair has managed to do this better than the Apatow gang, aka Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, etc. While Apatow himself has been getting more serious and less funny over the past few years, his posse of average-looking-white-thirty-somethings has been doing exactly the opposite. It seems only fitting that their biggest on-screen collaboration to date is just as juvenile as it is hilarious, to the point where you don’t feel guilty about laughing anymore. Well, that is assuming that you didn’t go with your parents or on a first date. Then again, if you put yourself in either of those situations you deserve every bit of awkward self-censorship that you get. This Is The End is immature, raunchy, and ridiculous through and through, but it also happens to be the funniest movie I’ve seen all year.
The Plot: 8/10
While attending a party at James Franco’s house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse.
Sure, it’s not like the end of the world hasn’t been tackled in a comedic manner before. Zombieland, Mars Attacks, Shaun of the Dead, there are plenty of movies that have mixed apocalyptic themes with highly effective humor. Even if the setup itself isn’t exactly revolutionary, it still makes for a hell of a lot of off-the-wall fun. In a lot of ways, this feels like the movie that Rogen and Goldberg’s last collaboration, The Watch, was trying to be. The problem is, the duo’s writing style only appears to work when paired with the right on-screen personalities, and it just didn’t work with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. I won’t spoil anything but I’ll at least say that the movie squeezes every last drop out of it’s premise while still making you feel like you’re seeing something new. My only complaint is that at just over two hours, the movie really could have and should have been shorter.
The Writing: 7/10
I’ve been told that a good chunk of the script here was ad-libbed, and I doubt that anybody would find that hard to believe. After all, the characters are playing themselves so it makes sense to have them talk like the audience thinks they would talk. Part of this makes for a lot of good fun because it really does feel like the characters are saying and acting how they would if they were confronted with that sort of situation. It’s that part of the movie that leaves very little for the script to do. The plot is driven by the characters reacting to the various crazy things that are happening around them, so very little character development is needed. There’s a small sub-plot involving Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen’s relationship and how Hollywood has created a rift between the two, but other than that the writing is exclusively geared towards comedy.
The Acting: 7/10
It’s hard to judge the acting category for this movie as I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched any movie in which the main characters plays themselves, let alone the entire cast. I only give a lower score in this category because it’s clear that everyone involved is playing the exact same character they’ve played a dozen times before. I know this is the intention, but that doesn’t make it impressive from an acting standpoint. What I will say is that the reason that all of these people have played this kind of character before is that they’ve become really good at it, from a comedic perspective. You really do get a sense of how good of friends most of these guys must be based on the chemistry they have on screen. That chemistry combined with the ad-libbed script almost makes you feel like you’re hanging out with the cast rather than just watching a movie with them in it.
The Comedy: 8/10
I know a lot of people I’ve talked to would give this category a 10/10 here, but I can’t quite bring myself to do that. It’s true, a lot the jokes are absolutely hilarious and it’s those jokes that you’ll be remembering after the movie is over. In between those jokes, however, are a lot of bits that just didn’t really land for me. A lot of the gags feel a little bit to much like they’re trying to shock you into laughter, a strategy which can only go so far before it starts feeling like lazy comedy. There are also a lot of bits that run way too long, which stands out even more considering the movie’s long run time. I can’t help but feel like cutting a few minutes of Danny McBride talking about his masculine byproduct would have made for a sleeker film overall.
With all of that out of the way, the majority of the film really is pretty damn funny if you’re a fan of the kind of humor that everyone here is known for. For every joke that missed there were two more that sent the audience into fits of laughter and for good reason. Some of my personal favorites involved a slapdash production of Pineapple Express 2, an unexpected cameo from a certain former male stripper, and a self-lampooning set of appearances by Michael Cera that will render me unable to watch old episodes of Arrested Development for at least another 48 hours (that’s about the maximum amount of time I allow myself to wait between viewings). Again, if you weren’t a fan of the cast’s work before this movie, it’s almost certainly not going to convert you. If you were, though, This Is The End is one you will not want to miss.
The Verdict: 7.5/10 – Superior
+ It feels very genuine, for better or for worse
+ The premise is full of situational humor that works great with the characters involved
+ When the jokes work, they are absolutely side-splitting…
– … but they don’t always work, especially if you’re not in the mood for raunchy humor
Rotten Tomatoes:85 %
Fogs’ Movie Reviews: A++
The Code is Zeek: 4/5
Fast Film Reviews: 4/5
Mercifully Short Reviews: 7.0/10
Average: 8.4/10 – Impressive