If I’m to understand correctly, the end of the world will entail fire and brimstone and giant genitalia- or at least according to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who co-wrote and directed This is the End. Absurdity runs amuck in this film, involving drugs, violence, and all kinds of bodily fluids. If this is how the Apocalypse is going down, I’d rather try my luck on my own then be stuck in James Franco’s house with these guys.
After making a short film trailer titled Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse, Rogen and Goldberg were given the go-ahead to turn it into a full length film. Like the many guests that cameoed on the brilliant British show, Extras, This is the End stars actors and actresses as themselves, except more exaggerated and with different quirks and characteristics we wouldn’t expect from them. Jay Baruchel is in Los Angeles for a short time, visiting his good friend Seth Rogen. Baruchel is not fond of LA, so when invited to a party that James Franco is having, he reluctantly attends with Rogen. At the party are a bunch of different celebrities including Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, along with a coked-out Michael Cera, who plays the most obnoxious asshole ever. Baruchel is ready to leave, convincing Rogen to go with him to the connivence store to get more cigarettes in hopes that he can coax Rogen into leaving. It isn’t Baruchel’s day, however, as this is when God decides to have the apocalypse. After witnessing blue beams of light lifting people into the air, Rogen and Baruchel retreat to Franco’s place where a sink hole swallows up many of the guests from the party. Rogen and Baruchel along with Franco, Robinson, and Hill are left to fend for themselves within the house until someone comes to rescue them. All this takes place within the first twenty minutes, leaving an hour and thirty minutes of some of the most ridiculous comedy to grace the silver screen in quite some time.
Everyone plays their role with a wink, showing you just how absurd celebrity personalities can be, and yet shining a light on how human they are. There’s not a brave soul in this group, opting to pulling straws to determine who gets the dirty job. Yet through these pathetic caricatures of themselves we are able to better identify with them, and thus every scenario they encounter is funnier. We see men acting like boys, fighting to stay alive, but also fighting each other. It’s crude and grotesque, with every kind of disturbing scenario made more disgusting by having giant penises involved (of which there are lots). The whole thing plays out like a cruel science experiment: what would happen if you trapped six male celebrities in a house with little food and water. The answer would be something a lot more tame than this movie, and yet that’s what makes it fun. So fun in fact, that by the time the end comes in redemption style ascension, it turns into disappointment. The ending felt rushed and a bit of a letdown after the 2 hour 40 minute buildup. I guess I was expecting something a little more ambitious. However, Rogen and Goldberg did a good job referencing many horror film tropes and in the process invent new ones (the demon raping Jonah Hill stands out the most). In the end, This is the End was the most I’ve laughed in a long time and also made me realize that if the apocalypse does indeed happen, I’d probably be safer with Emma Watson.