Personally, there were reasonable expectations when approaching the new Seth Rogan-helmed comedy, This is the End. Co-written by Evan Goldberg (whose claim to fame was co-writing Superbad and Pineapple Express with Rogan) as well as taking the director’s chair for the first time, the comedic possibilities about an end-of-the-world scenario are actually limitless when done right. With so many A-list comedians taking up the central cast, the one major issue is utilizing their effective means of comedic material to effectively sway the audience. With all of these elements in place, audiences can expect a few laughs, some self-deprecating humor as well as effects worthy of an estimated 25 million dollar budget.
However, surprise was on the horizon when sitting down to view the star-studded apocalypse. This film is marketed primarily for the audiences of Rogan/Goldberg comedies, however due to its broad appeal with its comedian cast (including Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) it can reach far more than Superbad ever did (which was not as strong a film as what was expected of it). With all the actors playing stereotyped versions of themselves, the suspension of disbelief was actually quite high, which allowed any of the overtly silly shenanigans on screen to be accepted with far more ease than it would if these actors were playing more fictionalized characters.
The story centers around Seth Rogan and Jay Baruchel getting together for a weekend to hang out and get high, when Seth recommends they go to James Franco’s new house-warming party where a mob of celebrities from Rihanna to Emma Watson were attending. Though Jay is apprehensive, he goes and whilst there, the majority of the guests are killed by a sinkhole into the mantle of the Earth, (which also includes hysterical interactions with people trying to survive, including Kevin Hart repeatedly kicking Aziz Ansari in the face). The main characters board themselves up inside Franco’s house and take note of all of their rations, hoping to be rescued. As time proceeds, the are more at each others’ throats, with many of them coming to honest realizations about themselves, each other and why what is happening is happening, which concludes in the biblical apocalypse.
The film lifts many scenes from previous films, most notably Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist with actually tactful fervor. Throughout the whole of the film, with each interaction played up for comedic intensity, the timing of the screenplay is actually astoundingly sharp without being overbearing. Delivered with the exact same precision, the performances are believable and relatable (as far as it goes), with each interaction being more supercilious and hysterical than the last. There are flaws and loopholes in the story that are actually superseded by the overall film, where the intentions and sincerity of the performances actually override the menial nitpicks that one can have with the movie for the sake of the utter hilarity of it. Personally, story and writing are always the absolute necessary foundations of a good movie and though many may have issues with the story in this one, they are not glaring enough to be counted as hurtful to the experience.
With recent major comedic releases including lackluster films such as Identity Thief and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, as well as utter bombs such as Movie 43 and Peeples (which ironically stars Craig Robinson), This is the End is a refreshing and very well defined comedy that not only supplies multitudes of laughs and inside jokes into the world of these celebrities and movies in general, but is done so competently and fluidly that it will stand as this year’s most effective comedy thus far.
Written by Matthew Roe