THIS IS THE END is a film about the apocalypse as seen through the eyes of Seth Rogen and his group of friends. They are all playing versions of themselves, hanging out at James Franco’s Hollywood home. At first glance one might think this is a self-indulgent film, and in some ways it is, however that really isn’t an issue as this is an extremely funny film and these self caricatures are ridiculous. The film actually turns out to be a piece about reflection, looking at the before and after of life changes. Yes there is actually a deep meaning hidden inside the film, and props to writers/directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen for adding that in as well as making a great comedy that doesn’t hold back.
The film begins with Seth Rogen picking up long time friend Jay Barushel from the airport, Jay is in LA to see Seth. They head back to Seth’s pad, smoke weed and play video games, you know the very thing we probably assume they do when not filming. Seth then convinces Jay to go to a party at James Franco’s, Jay is hesitant because he doesn’t really like that group of Seth’s friends. But he agrees and they head to Franco’s new Hollywood home, complete with weird art, recognisable faces, booze and drugs. With Jay not having a good time, Seth goes with him to a local mart to get some cigarettes and this is where things get crazy. Suddenly a lot of insane stuff is going down, it feels like an Earthquake but it doesn’t take long before they see it is something far worse.
Really in this film the apocalypse is in the background, it does start off as being mysterious, and no one really believes Jay at first about it. While everything crazy is happening outside, a small group are then left to wonder what’s going on and what to do. The relationships between each of them (consisting of Seth, Jay, James, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride) is different, the tensions are there with some. That is what really makes this such a blast a to watch, we know they aren’t exactly playing themselves, and these not quite them characters are well done. It plays around with what the media tries to portray celebrities as, yes it takes quite the stab at that culture and it works. James is so worried about his house, despite the ground sinking outside. Jonah is all bent up on trying to make things work with Jay, and Danny McBride is just all over the place. It’s a good joke that works constantly, by the end it wears out a little but not to the point it loses its touch.
Its actually really interesting having the characters not be overly likeable, and the discussions they have about not being worthy of being taken to heaven. It’s an interesting thought, they discuss what they do as actors, and how they are doing something for people, they are entertaining the masses. Isn’t that doing a good deed, one ponders, and it gets shut down as its brought up that actors get paid a lot for what they do. As the film progresses we get to see their own hang ups and insecurities, they aren’t perfect and they know it. While the dick jokes do get worn out, it really does represent something, even if it is used more as a gag than anything else.
Looking at the performances, I think our main players do a really good job. Not only are they playing themselves, they are playing a different form, and I can’t imagine that is an easy task to pull off. There is constant humiliation and nastiness towards each other, it never feels uncomfortable because these actors have a bond together. I think that is a strength here, as not only do they have a bond, there is a strong chemistry as well. Seth Rogen really put everything into this, it shows with his performance, the passion for the project is there. He generally hits all the notes he needs to, and his scenes with Jay work the best. Jay Baruchel is great, and this is one of the best roles he’s had. This is a project close to him also, and he’s really putting forth such a strong effort. James Franco plays such a bizarre version of himself and it actually really works. It isn’t an easy task to dislike James, yet he does it so easily here and it’s quite funny. Jonah Hill really mocks himself, there are nods to his Oscar nomination, and while he’s trying to play the good guy it’s obvious he’s putting it on. It is a different role for him actually, and he does a really fantastic job, especially later in the film when things get crazy. Craig Robinson was really funny, his chemistry with each of the actors was really strong and it certainly made his scenes stick out. Danny McBride comes in and causes destruction, it is hilarious and he manages to do it without breaking a sweat. He was a stand out, perhaps it was because it was quite different than what he has done before, it just worked.
The film is highly entertaining, it really showed that it wasn’t just a self-indulging piece, that there really was more to it. It had things to say behind all the laughs and unexpected violence. The apocalypse is second fiddle here, the focus is where it needs to be with the characters. THIS IS THE END is a top contender for comedy of 2013, Seth Rogen and his crew have done a really good job.