Some bros, some demons...good times
Loves: Half of the cast, megacasts
Likes: The other half, meta comedy, playing against character
Dislikes: Danny McBride's characters
Hates: Drugs, demonic possession
When you have a gang of actors as polarizing as Rogen and company (maybe not Robinson, who most people flat-out love) playing slightly exaggerated versions of themselves, much of the film's success will ride on your view of them. It's as if the movie is a sequel to their lives, building on their years of work and celebrity, and if you missed the first part, you m,ay not get what's going on. Personally, this crew includes some of my favorite actors (no, not those guys) so this was an easy sell. That they play together well, and are more than willing to be ridiculous makes for a fun experience. Jonah Hill plays the most inauthentic version of himself possible, while Franco's portrayal lives up to most people's view of his quirky personality. But of all the big names who make appearances in this movie, including Emma Watson, Rihanna, Kevin Hart and Aziz Ansari, no one makes quite the same impact as Michael Cera. The term "playing against type" was made for his performance.
The film's biggest issue though is the way it struggles to balance the comedy and the action/horror elements. In fact, there's a rather obvious section toward the middle of the film where all momentum goes missing, which through no likely coincidence occurs with the arrival of Danny McBride, playing yet another jerk in a career made up of them. Everything I've read and heard says he's a lovely man, but this act wore out its welcome with me long ago. A late-game redemption (aided by the film's most out-there celebrity cameo, even moreso than Cera) doesn't fully negate his presence, and he doesn't help the film find its balance, as the comedy often stands starkly separate from the action, though there are certainly laughs to be found in the midst of the more dramatic moments. Fortunately, both sides of the equation are good enough at what they do to make the overall movie entertaining.
Unlike most comedies, the sound is integral to This is the End, and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track helps drive home all the action in this film, exploding in the surrounds and bass when all hell literally breaks loose. Whether it's the screams of a demon in your face or the screams of victims suffering off-screen, it's all presented cleanly and well-placed, while the dialogue is consistently legible.
In addition to the commentary, two extras are found on both the Blu-ray and DVD release, and that's "Directing Your Friends" (6:30) and "This is the Marketing" (16:44). "Directing Your Friends" builds plenty of on-set footage around interviews with Rogen and Goldberg, who talk about their interactions with the cast in their new roles as directors, the creation of the story and characters, improv and their writing process. Remember these interviews, as you're going to see them again.
"This is the Marketing" is a collection of six pieces made to promote the film virally, including confessional videos (as seen in the movie), Rogen talking about the cast and a redband sizzle reel. The best part though is the nearly seven-minute long outtakes, which make fun of viral videos, with Rogen, Franco, McBride and Baruchel messing around and having a great deal of fun in a variety of dumb situations.
The Blu-ray exclusic bonus features start with "Meta-Apocalype" (7:43), a piece about how everyone is playing themselves, as expressed through interviews with the cast. Remember when I said to remember those interviews? The deja vu starts here.
Because of its focus, the 10:44 "Let's Get Techical" is more original, chatting with Rogen, the film's director of photography and the stunt coordinator, to talk about the effort that went into the production, including the way the film was shot, and a behind-the-scenes look at a big fire scene and some car crashes.
"Party Time" (12:54) is another relatively in-depth look at the production, this time focusing on the film's big party scene, and learn more about Cera's involvement, including a particularly painful experience with a co-star.
If the movie somehow didn't give you enough McBride, "The Cannibal King" (4:25) may be your thing, as it lets the man talk about his role, while also showing some alternate takes from one of his scenes. There's even more in "The Making of "The Making of Pineapple Express 2, a look inside a boredom-breaking home movie the characters make while waiting out the apocalypse. Your interest in the original Pineapple Express will largely decide your mileage here.
An interesting inclusion is Jay & Seth vs. The Apocalypse (9:58), the original 2007 short film that was remade into This is the End, with Rogen and Baruchel. Though the concept is very similar, the tone couldn't be more different. Made ariound the time of his break-out in Knocked Up, this short by the Undeclared alumni is an interesting work in progress.
Considering the amount of improv that apparently went into this film, it's surprising that only 12:34 of alternate lines from three scenes are available here, with one of the scene represented being the repetitive and honestly boring screaming match between Franco and McBride, which lacks cleverness. "This is the Gag Reel" (6:16) is only slightly better, highlighting the cast's screw-ups and general shenanigans, while an assortment of eight deleted scenes (15:52) is more substantial, offering more of Cera, extentions of scenes in the final movie and more of Rogen and Goldberg's patented filthy talk.
The disc extras wrap up with a bunch of other trailers, while you also get a DVD copy and an Ultraviolet stream/download code.
The Bottom Line