This Is the End springs from the comedy font of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the same minds that wrote Superbad and Pineapple Express. Starring their friends as versions of themselves and thrusting them into the apocalypse, This Is the End is ripe with the expected pop culture references, boorish humor, and plenty of pot. While not as successful as Superbad, this fast-pace film does offer a lot of nice surprises.
Jay Baruchel comes to Los Angeles and stays with his friend Seth Rogen. He reluctantly accompanies Rogen to James Franco’s housewarming party. After a wild celebrity-filled party, cataclysmic events happen and Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson attempt to survive together while they wait for rescue.
This film is chock-full of cameos from other celebrities and half the fun is picking them out of the background or having them show up in unexpected ways, so I won’t ruin the fun by spoiling them here. While celebrity sightings are only one aspect of the film it might be the most successful. As fun as the main six cast members are, it’s the little cameos by the stars we know and love lampooning themselves and Los Angeles culture that amplifies the camaraderie shared by the core cast.
What surprised me the most about This Is the End was the skillful handling of comedic tension between the leads. Whether it’s the carelessness of playing with a loaded gun, or the sudden appearance of a shadowy figure followed by a ridiculously loud noise, I found much of the drama pretty thrilling given the context. The film’s aesthetic may take its cues from stoner culture, but it succeeds in mixing in action beats much more successfully than say, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny. While the “scares” are played more for laughs and are not intended to impress seasoned horror fans, they were enough to make me grip my arm rest in anticipation of the next one. In fact, I suspect I will find the film funnier a second time through since I won’t have to nervously anticipate what happens next.
If you are looking for solid farcical humor, This Is the End delivers, especially in the first third of the film. Fans of the main cast will find an embarrassment of riches. There are big laughs throughout, but they tend to come in sparser amounts as the running time goes on. To the film’s credit it sticks the landing in a more satisfying way than other comedies like it. Now, I can finally forgive James Franco for Your Highness.
This Is the End opens today in Philly area theaters.