|This Is The End…With a Bang
There’s something perversely delicious about watching famous actors play twisted versions of themselves. Ricky Gervais’ Extras masterfully had Sting, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Dame Diana Riggs and others pretend they were bizarro versions of their famous personas. This Is The End, an apocalyptic comedy created by the gang made famous by Judd Apatow, hilariously peels back the public view of stars Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Emma Watson to reveal humanity at its most animalistic and opportunistic. For actors who have a reputation as everyday people, they appear to love mucking up their slacker guises to portray greedy, thoughtless, downright creepy versions of themselves. Though it’s impossible for the audiences to imagine this could be a documentary, the actors are still taking a striking risk by pretending to be everything people hate about Hollywood that pays off considerably as satire.
Jay Baruchel (How To Train Your Dragon) returns to Los Angeles to visit his old buddy Seth Rogan (Knocked Up). They trek to a party at the house of James Franco (Oscar Nominee for 128 Days), even Baruchel finds the actor/director/multi-hyphenate to be a jerk. At the party is a drugged-out Michael Cera (Arrested Development), a sycophantic Jonah Hill (Oscar Nominee for Moneyball) and other young stars like Rihanna and Mindy Kaling. The RAPTURE arrives, lifting the chosen ones to heaven and creating hell on earth. NONE of the movie stars have been lifted up; actually not one person at the party has been chosen to ascend. Instead the majority of Must See TV gets sucked into the fire and brimstone of hell while our stars hover in the house, back fighting, stealing each other’s food and basically whining about each other to a video camera like they were contestants on Big Brother and not facing the End of Days.
Writers/directors Rogan and Evan Goldberg wrote the equally hilarious Superbad. They take the gross-out comedy to the next level with super gory effects, but with an underlying sweet sensibility. Though the film shows humanity at its worst, it develops the bro-tastic friendship between Rogan and Baruchel.
The actors are shameless. Two of the biggest laughs are seeing Michael Cera as a sex-starved coke addict and Channing Tatem as … something quite different from Magic Mike. Rogan has made a career out playing the pot-smoking yokel and here he turns it on its head by admitting his characters are not far from the reality. The casting of Baruchel as the audience’s surrogate is clever since his most famous roles are a cult TV series with a limited audience (Undeclared) and as a cartoon voiceover. He seems separate from his more famous friends so we can identify with him — unlike his ultra-wealthy buds. Franco has built a status the last few years as an egotist, and too quirky for his own good with his disastrous Oscar hosting and his odd small films. This is the End is evidence that Franco is purposely making himself a folly through these performance arts for some reason, since he plays a hateful version of himself with such glee. Of course, any film that contains muggle Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson, slinging around an axe like a warrior deserves serious points.
This is the End does ramble and isn’t as tightly humorous as it could be —it has 60% less laughs than a Edgar Wright movie like Shaun of the Dead — but on a subversive level, it is wickedly clever.