With a movie like This Is The End, I feel like there are a few things that could’ve gone wrong, but mainly just two big ones. One: The movie could’ve felt far two self-indulgent, since it stars a bunch of successful comedy stars potentially making in-jokey references that make it feel like the audience isn’t in on the joke. And two: considering This Is The End also has such a high-concept apocalyptic premise, it could’ve gotten far too wrapped up in plot and special effects while losing sight of the comedy, which I assume is the reason anyone would go to see a movie starring everyone who’s ever been in anything Judd Apatow’s ever been involved with. However, I’m glad to say that This Is The End for the most part steers clear of these trappings, and mainly succeeds by just being really really funny.
This Is The End revolves around Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel (basically playing themselves) reuniting for a weekend in LA, mainly as a way of reinforcing their somewhat strained bromance. We then get to see them hanging out at a party at James Franco’s house, in which we see basically every successful comedic actor working today playing up their image, including an amusingly sleazy Michael Cera. Then shit of biblical proportions starts going down, as all these celebrities get thrown in to a giant molten pit, all while the city of Los Angeles begins to go up in flames. Then ultimately, we’re left with Rogen, Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson (Yay!), and Danny McBride all in one house, trying to survive the apocalypse the only way they know how: by making lots of jokes at each other’s expense.
I guess what’s comforting about This Is The End, is that despite the fact that all these Apatow veterans are pretty established stars at this point, they still have the comedic chops to riff with each other in a way that almost resembles a bunch of veteran jazz musicians getting back together. It just works, because everyone knows each others strengths and weaknesses so well. And if I wanted to keep milking that jazz metaphor, I could also say that a lot of this Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg-directed vehicle feels very improvised, and whether it is or isn’t, you almost always get the feeling that everyone’s bringing their A-game.
Another thing I was particularly pleased with was the raunchiness of the humor that’s on display here. It seems like in the wake of The Hangover movies, there haven’t been a ton of comedies that have pulled off the raunchy comedy thing without feeling either too mean-spirited or just gross for the sake of being gross. But this is after all a movie from the guys that wrote the blissfully explicit Superbad, and it’s nice to see that they haven’t softened up one bit. God knows I’ve been trying to scrub the image of a shiny black demon penis out of my head for the past few days, and I guess I have this movie to thank for that.
I suppose you could say this qualifies as a horror-comedy, since there are a couple of scary moments that derive from the supernatural aspects of the movie. There’s also kind of a horror movie character dynamic that these guys have, which eventually plays out in a fairly predictable and generic way. Also, the ending is maybe a little too silly for my taste, but This Is The End is certainly fast-paced enough and features such a copious amount of laughs, that in the end, it’s hard not to be entertained.