“This is The End” – Review by Zachary Marsh

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What’s a better way to start off the summer than with the end of the world? This is The End is a comedic depiction on how such celebrities like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and James Franco would handle the impending apocalypse if it actually happened. The novel thing about this film is that each actor in this movie plays a fictitious version of himself, which I thought was pretty clever and original. Apparently the majority of this film was nothing but improvisation between the six leads, which is very impressive particularly in some of the crazier moments in the movie. Frankly, there are many moments of sheer hilarity here – it’s just that so many of them were spoiled for me by the barrage of commercials and trailers out there. Overall, though, ‘This is The End’ is a very funny movie. It didn’t have the power to make me cry with laughter or hurt my internal organs in any way, but it does have very consistent humor, some great twists, and is even somewhat terrifying during some apocalyptic sequences.

Jay Baruchel returns to Los Angeles for a weekend visit with best friend Seth Rogen after a year of living away – he’s not a fan of the L.A. crowd that Rogen’s now a part of. Rogen picks him up at the airport, and after a day spent hanging out, Baruchel reluctantly agrees to go to a party at James Franco’s newly-built mansion. The night of partying turns into a night of chaos as Hollywood becomes engulfed in flames, blue beams shoot down from the sky and suck people up, and dozens of Hollywood’s biggest stars meet their deaths in the goriest and craziest of ways. Trapped in Franco’s house, Jay and Seth, along with James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride, must fend for themselves as they survive the impending apocalypse that has come upon the world.

After writing such films as Superbad and Pineapple Express, screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg not only wrote this film, they also co-directed it. Both men definitely had a handle on what they were doing and, for the most part, succeeded at making a solid comedy. They load up the film with references to other movies that the cast members acted in, and add scenes that parody the likes of The Exorcist and 2012. Of course there are the typical genitalia, masturbation, and sex jokes that one has come to expect from an R-rated Rogen/Goldberg flick. Luckily, most of it works. All of the actors even manage to riff off each other and frequently bash each other on some of their box office failures, which is very funny to listen to. Seth Rogen as an actor does a solid job, but as a director allows many of the other actors to get more laughs than he does.

It was pretty easy to tell that every actor involved with this movie, whether it was one of the six leads or one of the smaller cameo-esque roles, (Michael Cera and Emma Watson are standouts) all had a great time being a part of this flick. James Franco and Danny McBride have one scene in particular together that made me howl with laughter. Jay Baruchel is, for the most part, the serious one of the group, and for that he’s really good in the film. The two best actors in the film, though, were probably Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill. There are things that happen to these two characters that are just executed perfectly and produce huge laughs, even if you know what’s coming from having seen the trailers. Still, this is one of those movies that it’s better to avoid any commercials/clips from it and not to know the overall outcome of the characters. That adds to the fun of experiencing a film like this on the big screen.

In all honesty, I compare my experience to this film to my experience last year when I saw and reviewed the film Ted.  Many early screenings had occurred for the film already, and from the friends of mine who had seen it already, it had been getting nothing but praise and was being declared a comedic goldmine.  Then I saw the film and, well, I was less enthusiastic about it than they are.  Months later, I revisited the film and actually enjoyed it much more than I had prior to that.  This I believe is going to be the same exact situation for me.  While I wasn’t crying in laughter like a good amount of my audience was during the film, there were moments of sheer hilarity that will be remembered when 2014 comes along.

This Is The End is not the perfect summer comedy that I was looking for, but as far as comedies that have come out this year, this is, by far, the funniest. It drags a little in the middle due to conflicts in the story, and some of the jokes aren’t as funny as others, but overall the movie is very clever and filled with crowd-pleasing moments. I may need to see it again, to catch what my laughter made me miss the first time out. If you already know about certain cameos, special surprises, and jokes that occur during the movie prior to seeing it, it might take from your experience and make you like it less than you originally would have. Overall, This is The End is consistently funny, has moments of pure horror that are indeed terrifying, and is a great film to experience to share with a packed theater who are ready to laugh very hard.

8.5/10

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