All right, all you haters, I’m saying this first to get it out of the way: I like Seth Rogen. I like Seth Rogen and James Franco and Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel and all those other Judd Apatow boys. I liked them in Freaks and Geeks. I liked them in Undeclared and I’ve liked them in every movie they’ve spawned from Knocked-Up to I Love You, Man. Honestly, I wish that I knew these guys in real life and could hang out with them on the regular. So, before you read this review, just know that I am already their fan.
This Is The End is a story about the end – as in, the end of civilization as we know it, the end of the earth as it stands now. It’s the story of what may happen to Seth Rogen and his boy Jay Baruchel should the apocalypse occur while they happen to be attending a house-warming party at James Franco’s new Hollywood mansion. These guys (and so many others) play themselves. Well… exaggerated, semi-ridiculous versions of themselves. Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride round out this sausage-heavy sextet who fill nearly every scene. There are cameos galore, dick and ejaculation jokes out the wazoo and a fifty foot tall Satan sporting one seriously intimidating boner. That’s right – in this apocalyptic flick, the apocalypse is REAL. No zombies, no flesh-eating plague, no nuclear war. Just the earth opening up to swallow all the sinners, fire and brimstone kind of apocalypse that the Bible has promised us. Or at least, as writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg imagine it.
And it is raucously funny. It isn’t deep or complex by any possible definition. There is no greater religious or social meaning, no intricate plot to be found. The story is nothing more than what these guys imagine might happen to them should the apocalypse suddenly, finally, come. What ensues is an hour and 45 minutes of shenanigans. The good news, I laughed for a solid 90 minutes of that 105 min. span. Say what you will about these fellas, they are funny. Yes, their jokes are absurd and juvenile and I freely admit that dick jokes can and most certainly do get old. But they can also hit the mark and in this flick, with this cast, they do, over and over again. Of course, they aren’t all dick and cum jokes, but a great many of them are and they are, somehow, consistently funny. Honestly, I kept waiting to get tired of them, to start yawning instead of laughing but it just didn’t happen. These guys take some of the most inane and predictable material and deliver it in a way that makes people laugh. A lot.
And there’s something about watching actors play themselves in a self-deprecating, mocking way that just amuses the hell out of me. When I first saw the trailer for this, I wondered if it would feel self-indulgent. Like, ‘hey look how much money we’ve got now, we can make any ol’ stupid, shallow movie we want!’ But that never came through, not one bit. Rather than stroke their own egos, they poke fun at themselves and instead of feeling like a voyeur on the lives of the rich and famous, you just feel like you’re in on the fun.
The cast is great, exactly what we’ve come to expect from this crew. Rogen and Baruchel play the leads and their chemistry as old friends who may have slightly out-grown each other works perfectly. McBride is every bit the selfish, insensitive jerk I imagine him to be in the film’s most villainous role (other than that of Satan, of course) and even Franco is capable of making fun of himself by playing on the rumors that he’s awfully full of himself and unhealthily attached to his boy, Seth. Jonah Hill is actually more likeable here, playing himself, than in his earlier roles as the self-absorbed douche bag and each and every cameo will leave you smiling. (Some more than others – ahem, Channing Tatum.) The stand-out in this gang is Craig Robinson, who is simply delightful. He has perfect comedic timing and can do everything from deadpan (The Office) to absurdly silly (Zack and Miri Make A Porno) and he’s hilarious at it all. For real, Robinson belongs in ALL the comedies.
If you hate this crew and have never liked any of their work, I’d say this likely won’t change your mind. But even if your feelings toward them are luke warm, I’d bet you’ll enjoy this. It won’t win any awards or earn a place in cinematic history, but it certainly is one fun gigglefest of a flick.