'This is the End' Movie Review: Like Spending An Hour and a Half With Friends
Go ahead and put these nuggets on the poster:
-Seth Rogen kills EVERYONE with laughs in his direcorial debut!
-Craig Robinson has never been funnier!!
-Miss Kenny Powers? Don’t miss This Is the End!!!
-Jay Baruchel is in this movie.
-The funniest, most raucous comedy in years!!!!
And I’d swear to the Judeo-Christian God that I believe what I mean in every one of those points. This movie is funny. If you liked Pineapple Express you’ll like this. If you loved SuperBad, you’ll love this. I already referenced Eastbound and Down. If you don't like any of those, skip it. I don’t know if any other comedy has had a more accurate litmus test of precedential films ensuring upcoming entertainment. It goes beyond the fact that you have the same writers and actors doing essentially the same kind of weed and whack-off jokes that they’ve done before. This Is the End is the first great comedy to blur the line between actor and character to greatly effect the viewer’s emotional engagement and heighten the script’s narrative poignancy.
What should be no spoiler at this point is that every actor plays themselves, or as Seth Rogen said on Adam Corrola’s podcast, as version of themselves. Seth Rogen is Seth Rogen, and Michael Cera is Michael Cera. But while Rogen’s portrayal of Rogen as a nice Canadian who enjoys smoking weed is reportedly accurate, Cera plays himself to be a sexual deviant who has a hard-on and a hard-on for cocaine. To say that is an embellishment of Michael Cera’s real-life personality is most likely an understatement.
But the writers understand what they’re doing with this "we are us" characterization, bastardizing it for laughs and honoring it for pathos. We live in a world of TMZ, Funny or Die, and social media galore. More than at any other time in history, these celebrity comedians seem like real people to viewers. Whether it’s James Franco or Jonah Hill or Craig Robinson, we’ve spent years watching these actors together. It’s not strange to see them as "themselves." That the viewer buys into the "true" camaraderie between the characters is also what sells so many of the jokes. Ballyhooed acting talent James Franco might resent the redneck Danny McBride for making gay jokes to him. Hipster Jay Baruchel could hate Hollywood and think Jonah Hill is faking the "nice guy" act. And I’ll bet Craig Robinson would wear a t-shirt demanding the removal of panties while singing songs of the same theme. Seems like them.
And in the end (that will read a lot wittier after you’ve seen the movie), that same feeling that causes a viewer to say "we know these guys" is the same feeling that makes you pull for their friendships, cheer their victories (and their failures), and even give you a few moments where you’ll find yourself thinking, "That is one of the scariest thoughts ever about humanity." Don’t worry, there's sure to be a "drink my own piss" or a "rape Emma Watson" joke that will break those moments of introspective tension quickly, but that tension is a testament to the primary plot gimmick, that it never feels gimmicky.
If you want to laugh, go watch this movie. At the very least, it’ll feel like spending an hour and a half with your friends.