An ingloriously funny comedy. This is the End, tweaking the personalities of Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel, is a brilliant, crude, insanely meta movie. In a recent radio interview, Rogen (also writer and co-director along with Evan Goldberg) explained that the cast were playing douchebag versions of themselves, and thankfully, his cohorts and he have upheld the promise. They face nothing less than the coming of the apocalypse. Not only does the apocalypse, and all its incubus evil forces, have the best special effects of the recent doomsday films (really, or at least as good as Roland Emmerich’s “2012”), but it comes up with a pretty great way for the survivors to triumph over Armageddon. Yes, not only did I love this movie that much, I rank it on par with “Blazing Saddles,” “There’s Something About Mary,” and especially “Tropic Thunder,” as among the best vulgar comedies of all-time.
Rogen and Baruchel naturally play longtime friends who hit up James Franco’s party in the Hollywood hills. Enough time is spent on hobnobbing, with celebs passing out backhanded compliments, that we think, “This is a pretty good inside industry party movie.” I kept wondering at that point, and throughout, just how real and everyday are these actors playing themselves. Or I should say, how real is the egotism? Michael Cera (pic right), a candidate for my least favorite actor, is playing an outrageously far-out version of himself – a coked-out libertine with no redeeming value.
Equally daring is Baruchel, as much of a geek as Cera, who is such a party pooper you shouldn’t like him. He complains the entire movie he wants to go back to Seth Rogen’s house. And that he can’t say stand Jonah Hill, who is a lovable goofball with a stud earring in his ear. Hill is perhaps the best sport of all considering he gets violated the worst in the movie, in ways that recall both “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) and “The Exorcist” (1973).
There are tons of celebrity deaths by the end of the first reel (Emma Watson lasts longer than the other girls). An outrageous occurrence with a “commoners” death results in his head getting kicked around like a soccer ball. The boys put up barricades on the house to keep out looters. That’s when they think they’ve just been hit by a massive earthquake. But then they realize what they really need is to keep out the demons. Franco and the boys question about whether they really deserve this, to be remnants of an annihilated Earth. They’re nice guys after all, right?
Unbridled, the movie comes up with the sauciest, crudest masturbation jokes I’ve yet to hear, as well as some urine jokes. For once, I didn’t mind anything filthy I heard or saw (it seemed human douchebag nature to me). More sophisticated jokes about the Holy Bible and salvation come up, and when the boys run out of options, it’s sidesplitting to hear what they are willing to do to get saved by God. One of them though doesn’t know the difference between God and Jesus Christ!
“This is the End” is shockingly hilarious, a rolling tide of belly laughs in the theater. Even when I hated certain egos (McBride is so uncivil it hurts), I loved what the movie confronted them with. There is a battle of good versus the Prince of Darkness, but the most gripping battle was seeing these boys fight against their worst instincts. This comedy continues to do the unthinkable and nearly comes up a miracle. A bad boy classic it will be, nonetheless.
106 Minutes. Rated R.
COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / SATURDAY NIGHT LAFF RIOT
Film Cousins: “Dogma” (1999); “Shaun of the Dead” (2004); “2012” (2009); “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” (2012).