Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill
When the trailer for This Is the End first came out I thought it looked pretty funny. I figured if you liked Superbad, which I did, you'd like this one as well. It has some of the same actors (Rogen, Hill, Cera) and the same style of raunchy comedy that revolves around bodily fluids and recreational drugs. However, a major difference would be that in this movie the actors play themselves, with a ton of cameos thrown in for good measure. So while I assumed that I'd find it funny, I also thought that it would fall short of better movies because it would lack that emotional base that we don't always notice but we usually need. Well, apparently they just decided to replace emotion with extra crude humor, and the result wasn't a shallow film but one of the funniest movies I've seen in years.
Almost the entire story takes place in James Franco's new house in Hollywood. Seth Rogen and his old friend Jay Baruchel are reuniting in California, a place that Jay hates to be. Seth talks him into coming with him to Franco's housewarming, where there will be a ton of drugs and celebrities. Among the elite are Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Emma Watson, Rhianna, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, Aziz Ansari, and a bunch of others. Jay may not be having a great time, but the night is about to get worse. It seems as if the apocalypse is upon them, as the Hollywood Hills are engulfed in flame, blue lights take people into the sky, and monsters roam the streets. Only a small group of the party-goers survive and they must band together and get along if they are to have any chance of waiting out the end of the world.
I did not expect the movie to be as funny as it was. I mean, I thought it'd be funny, not hilarious, but it was definitely the latter. It was non-stop comedy from the very beginning, but somehow it never got old or annoying. I haven't laughed that hard since who knows when; maybe since Superbad. And while that movie relied on our memories of how awkward it is to be young, this movie got us laughing by putting audiences in ridiculous situations that only warped minds could possibly think of. And the comedy was warped, be warned. It was crude, sexual, graphic, dirty, whatever you want to call it. But it was also real; it was a bunch of guys stuck in a house together with nothing to do but smoke pot, look at porn, drink wine, turn on each other, and worry about which of them was going to die next.
I guess that's why the movie worked; it was surprisingly real for such a silly film. Now, by real I don't mean realistic, I mean it felt natural. It felt like the lines were what Seth and Jay and Jonah would say if they found themselves in this situation. Breaking down that fourth wall really worked because it made the characters real and allowed the actors to make fun of themselves and of each other while still playing people in the movie. It was kind of a genius idea, and I'm not sure the movie would have worked so well had they tried to create stories and backgrounds and fake names. It worked because it was off-center, because it was hilarious while being pretty original. And you could tell the guys were having a great time making the film, which was really infectious. I felt jealous that I wasn't under lock-down during the rapture with this crew; for being that close to death it seemed like they were having a pretty awesome time.