If you thought that the Red Wedding on that one episode of Game Of Thrones was bad, just wait until you see This Is The End, the new film from writer/directors Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. Spoiler Alert: Virtually any popular comedian or pop-culture icon you can think of dies on screen in the first fifteen minutes. You’re left gasping for air as the likes of Michael Cera, Aziz Ansari, and Paul Rudd all suffer hellish fates. Not just because it’s insane that Seth & Evan cinematically kill all of their friends, but because it’s so goddamn funny as it happens. Such is only the start of the pure chaos that resides within This Is The End.
This is one of those movies that makes you sound like a lunatic while you try to describe the plot to your friends afterwards. Jay Baruchel arrives in LA to hang out with Seth Rogan (the actors all play themselves) and ends up getting talked into going to a huge party at James Franco’s new extremely expensive house. This party, which is filled with the entire Apatow crew and countless other Hollywood celebrities, serves as many things. It serves as a mini reunion between 3/4s of the principle cast from Freaks And Geeks, a Superbad reunion, and while I won’t spoil the fun, it’s also a chance to never be able to look at Michael Cera the same ever again. During the party, the Apocalypse erupts around LA in which the only survivors are Jay, Seth, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride. The group takes shelter inside of Franco’s ridiculous house, and thus from their on out the film becomes a love letter to Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg’s favorite films and pop culture references.
After nearly a decade of films from the Apatow crew, such as Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express, This Is The End feels like the best, if not at least the best since Superbad. It’s a solid two hours of non-stop fun. Not only was it fun seeing all the actors share the screen together once again, but it was a blast seeing them all play exaggerated versions of themselves. Jonah is the typical so far up his own ass Hollywood celeb after his Moneyball Oscar nom; Jay hates everything and everyone because he’s a Hipster; Franco is secretly obsessed with/in love with Seth, who is, well, I guess the same Seth he’s always been; Danny McBride plays practically an amalgam of every character he’s ever played; and Craig Robinson has a hugely popular catchphrase, “Take Yo Panties Off” and spends 98% of the film with a towel emblazoned with his name resting on his shoulder. Since they’re all playing themselves, they’re able to take the fun to extra heights by constantly mocking their previous movies and while exploring James Franco’s basement, in which he stores all of his props from past movies, you’re treated to such gems as a gun from Flyboys, his severed arm and camcorder (which they all use to film The Real World style confessionals) from 127 Hours, and more importantly, his costume from Pineapple Express. Any fans of that flick will be overjoyed at how that costume plays into This Is The End.
One of the things that made Superbad such a great film was how aside from the fantastic comedy elements, the film also had a heart. It dealt with the awkwardness of growing up in high school and co-dependant friends learning to adjust to social life in separate directions. Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg have again put a heart underneath all of the craziness found in This Is The End, essentially touching on the same subject but just at a much older age. Covering once again the co-dependance of friends, and the unwillingness to accept your friend’s other friends, but taking it one step further by showing the importance of treating each other well and always being there for each other. It’s not as deeply seeded as it was in Superbad, but it’s there and it gives the film more than just a “crazy action comedy” vibe. You can actually emotionally connect with it.
The one thing that everyone will be talking about this most after seeing This Is The End will be the film’s third act. To some, they might not like or appreciate how truly off the rails it becomes, but for a film as ridiculous as it already is, it actually works to the film’s advantage. Using plenty of references to Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, and countless other horror films (I swear the scene in Franco’s neighbor’s house is an homage to Ghostbusters), Seth and Evan just start throwing you curveball after curveball until it ends in one huge heavenly reunion that rivals the Britney Spears scene from Spring Breakers as best Pop Culture Joke of 2013.
This Is The End is not only the best comedy of 2013 so far, but it’s one of the absolute best outings from the Apatow crew yet (only marginally behind Superbad). If for no better reason than to see a brief Freaks and Geeks reunion and Jason Segal talking shit on How I Met Your Mother. Oh, and that Michael Cera thing I mentioned earlier. Definitely for the Michael Cera thing.
I give This Is The End a 4.5 out of 5.
By Richard Pepper