It’s a timeless question: What would you do if it was the end of the world?
If "This Is The End" is any evidence, it seems we know how James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride would bid the planet adieu: They’d have a whole lot of drugged up, profane, wild fun. If this is what the end of the world as we know it looks like, to borrow a phrase from R.E.M., I feel fine.
The movie opens with Jay (all the actors star as themselves) arriving in Los Angeles to hang with Seth and have a lazy weekend of weed, snacks and lounging around on the couch. Their plans get a bit more complicated when Seth drags Jay off to a housewarming party at James Franco’s place. The neurotic and awkward Baruchel doesn’t really fit in with the L.A. crowd – and doesn’t really want to for that matter – but before he can leave, a bunch of blue lights come down from the sky and suck up various people throughout the city.
No, it’s not a joke-filled remake of that sci-fi bomb "Skyline." It’s the apocalypse, complete with mountains of fire (okay, the Hollywood Hills but close enough) and evil demons. Locked up inside Franco’s house, the celebrity stoners must now find a way to survive the end of days and hopefully earn God’s approval. Burning all copies of "Your Highness" would go a long way.
It’s a clever, funny idea – Judgment Day hits Los Angeles, and all of the pompous, self-absorbed actors get left behind – and the execution is even better. The opening party sequence is a hoot and where most of the film’s cameos reside, including Jason Segel, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Rihanna, Paul Rudd and a hilarious coke fiend Michael Cera. Then the apocalypse strikes, and it becomes our guys hanging out, ineptly trying to survive, getting testy with one another and making some home movies to pass the time (including a great on-the-fly sequel to "Pineapple Express").
The jokes in "This Is The End" just keep on coming, whether it’s Emma Watson barging in for a five minute cameo or even just Franco trying to explain the holy Trinity by using Neapolitan ice cream (which is actually kind of brilliant).
The likely improv-heavy screenplay, written by Rogen and frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg, is crammed with jokes about the cast members’ careers and public personas. Everyone takes their turn in the barrel, from potshots about "The Green Hornet" to Franco playing an obnoxious, pretentious version of himself to Danny McBride being … well, Danny McBride. It’s insider-y, however, without being exclusive. Clearly, this is an end of the world party for everyone to enjoy.
None of the stars particularly stick out, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s truly a team effort. They’re comedy veterans, and they know how to spread the wealth and share the comedic spotlight. It’s like a comedic potluck (with the emphasis on pot) where everyone brings a little dash of humor and personality, and the result is a massive, satisfying feast of laughs.
Even McBride – whose usual self-aggrandizing routine normally annoys me – is great as the most restless and greedy of the bunch. He ends up with a sex slave played by … oh, I’ll let you find that out for yourself (actually, the best cameo is saved for the very last scene).
The story is fairly meandering and often plays like a collection of little comedic vignettes. Even at almost two hours, though, the movie never gets bogged down. It moves with contagious energy and glee while also never sacrificing the relaxed vibe of a bunch of hilarious guys, chilling out during the apocalypse, bouncing jokes around and eventually getting completely fed up with one another.
It even has enough time for some unexpectedly nice character moments. Their realization that it really is the end of the world and that God is not only real but unhappy with them is strangely potent. Of course, this isn’t some grand "Tree of Life"-esque treatise on God and religion (though I think we can all agree "Tree of Life" would have been so much better with a psychedelic drug montage set to "Gangnam Style"), but it does make you care about these flawed characters.
Being the star students of Apatow's School of Heartwarming Lewd Comedies, there’s also a typical bromance between all of these stoner pals – namely Seth and Jay – that still gets borderline touching at points. Even the horror elements of the story (the film gets surprisingly gory at times, but it is the end of the world after all) are satisfyingly freaky, especially the gnarly-looking dragons and demons roaming the flaming landscape.
I could explain what makes the film uproariously entertaining and giggle-yourself-silly funny in technical terms for another 806 words, but perhaps the simplest review is just this: I walked into the screening room with a furious harrumph and a massive chip on my shoulder. Two hours later, I walked out with a huge smile on my face (I did see it again with a clearer head going in; the end result was the same). Maybe not every joke or gag landed, but I still felt like I had a secondhand high strong enough to make Hunter S. Thompson and Cheech Marin jealous.
To hear more about Matt Mueller's take on "This Is The End," click here for his review on Kramp Cast.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.