Runtime: 1 HR 47 MIN
Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Writers: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Jason Stone
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, Emma Watson
Celebrities playing themselves in a film can be genius or disastrous. In Being John Malkovich it worked brilliantly, in Oceans 12 Bruce Willis’ appearance as himself derailed an already out of control film. The precarious concept of celebrities playing themselves is taken one (or ten) steps further in the apocalyptic comedy This is the End.
When Seth Rogen convinces a visiting Jay Baruchel to attend a party at James Franco’s new home he reluctantly agrees despite not enjoying the Hollywood lifestyle many of his guests enjoy. Midway through the celebrity filled party weird things begin to happen; giant sink holes appear, wild fires tear through LA, and mysterious beams of blue light suck people into the sky causing mass panic and death. With most of the partygoers missing or dead Seth, Jay and James are joined by Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride. Together they struggle to survive the apocalypse and each other.
This is the End is not for the faint of heart; it’s not a film that’s going to keep you on the edge of your seat but if you’re easily offended than I’d stay about as far away from this film as humanly possible. If that kind of thing doesn’t bother you in the least then go for it- but you have been warned. It shouldn’t be any kind of shock to audiences that This is the End features “blue” humor since who would go see it if they didn’t already know what they were getting in to? With that said, I did hear some grumbling from people in the press screening I attended complain about its vulgarity. Again… what did they expect?
At times This is the End is an extremely effective comedy that will leave you clutching your side and making you very conscious of when you take a sip of your drink for fear of spitting it out. Unfortunately it’s a very uneven film at times that struggles with pacing. Much of the dialogue appears to be improvised; a lot of it works brilliantly, some of it doesn’t and most of the rest falls completely flat. That’s the risk you take with improvisational comedy and while some of it grew tiresome it’s hard to blame the effort.
Aside from some of the comedic efforts falling flat This is the End also struggles with some pacing issues. With its runtime coming in just over an hour and forty-five minutes the film is fifteen or so minutes too long. Matters aren’t helped any by an uneven third act that’s equally tedious as it is amusing.
As one might expect the film’s cast is its greatest attribute. It’s obvious on screen that the cast enjoys each other’s company and playing exaggerated versions of themselves. As funny as Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, McBride, Robinson and Hill are, there are plenty of laughs to be had thanks to some extremely funny cameos. Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, David Krumholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and even Rihanna provide a lot of laughs with very limited screen time. There are numerous other small cameos with celebrities that are easily identifiable some of which don’t even have lines. I’m sure the upcoming Blu-ray will be a treasure chest filled with celebrity cameos that didn’t make the final cut.
This is the End is at times extremely funny but it does falter with some jokes that fall flat and has more than its fair share of pacing issues. It’s a mixed bag to say the least but in the end This is the End works because you can tell the players involved really enjoy working together and it shows in the finished product.