Warning: This review contains gluten and tastes much better because of it...
Seth Rogen: Seth Rogen Jay Baruchel: Jay Baruchel James Franco: James Franco Craig Robinson: Craig Robinson Jonah Hill: Jonah Hill Danny McBride: Danny McBride Michael Cera: Michael Cera Emma Watson: Emma Watson
Columbia Pictures presents a film written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes Release Date: June 12, 2013
There's a scene early on in This is the End where Seth Rogen and James Franco discuss possible ideas for a Pineapple Express sequel. Seth says the biggest roadblock is coming up with an ending to the movie. To their credit, it doesn't dawn on them that fans of the original probably wouldn't care if the movie had an ending or not. And they won't care if This is the End does either.
If you don't know what you're sitting down to watch with This is the End, the first 15-20 minutes are a completely different movie than what you might expect from your traditional apocalyptic film. And the result brings some of the funnier exchanges in any movie in the last several years. The film begins with Seth Rogen picking his longtime friend Jay Baruchel at the airport for a weekend of pot smoking and video game playing on his new 3D TV. An invitation to James Franco's housewarming party brings the two Knocked Up co-stars out of their smoke engulfed fortress and eventually into another much bigger one.
The party itself is a riot, featuring a slew of self-deprecating celebrity cameos - the most impressive of which likely belongs to Michael Cera - and several winks to fans of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's original works, such as Superbad and the aforementioned Pineapple Express. Rogen and Goldberg - sharing the directors chair for the first time - make sure to sprinkle in jabs at some of their and their cast's lesser works throughout, as well, including The Green Hornet and Your Highness.
Ultimately, a half dozen funnymen remain holed up in Franco's house after many people throughout L.A. begin being sucked up to the sky by a mysterious blue light. Unspeakable horrors begin to be unleashed throughout the City of Angels - and presumably the rest of the world, although This is the End is careful not to stray too far beyond its slumber party from hell. While it's at times a flawed directorial debut, Rogen and Goldberg know the film benefits from keeping its audience locked in the house for a great deal of the film's apocalyptic activity. They know we're not here to necessarily see the end of the world, we're here to see how these "soft as s**t" (as Craig Robinson says) celebrities react to the apocalypse.
This is the End eventually has to reach some sort of a finish line, and it's in the film's third act that things begin to spiral out of control a little bit. Much like the discussed Pineapple Express sequel, finding an ending may have been the last element added to This is the End. Some of the roast-style humor is sacrificed for special effects and demon penises, although the various nods to films like The Exorcist and Evil Dead shouldn't go unnoticed. But this is a movie that obviously works best when it's being funny, and there does reach a point where it's hard to keep laughing at the end of the world.
That is a small price to pay for what I can confidently call the funniest movie of 2013, thus far. The cast is able to play off the strengths of the conversational humor that made movies like Superbad so popular and are never afraid to hold anything back. They're often crude, vulgar, and immature - so, for the most part, they deliver all you would hope and expect coming into This is the End.
The 411: Heavily anticipated from fans of projects like Superbad and Pineapple Express, This is the End delivers more than enough laughs to warrant a recommendation. While the film becomes a little too humorless and unfocused near the end, the shameless and often hilarious reactions of the cast to living in the apocalypse do a terrific job of carrying the movie. Including a host of great cameos and plenty of nods to the actors' previous works, This is the End is a must-see for fans of Seth Rogen & Co. and the funniest film of the year, to date.