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Overall Rating
3.73

Awesome: 14.63%
Worth A Look53.66%
Just Average: 24.39%
Pretty Crappy: 4.88%
Sucks: 2.44%

5 reviews, 11 user ratings


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This is the End
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Peter Sobczynski

"Burn Hollywood Burn"
4 stars

As I write these words, the year is almost halfway over and from a cinematic standpoint, even the most optimistic and open-minded moviegoer would have to admit that the state of big-screen comedy is not very strong at the moment. From such smugly unfunny clunkers from earlier in the year like "Identity Thief" and "Movie 43" to such current wastes of time as "The Hangover Part III" and "The Internship," laughs at the multiplex these days have been few and far between. In fact, if I were pressed to name the best comedy of the year to date, it would most likely be Joss Whedon's modern-day revamp of William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" and face it, that material has been road-tested for such a long time that all the kinks have long since been ironed out.

At first glance, "This is the End" may not inspire much hope that it might be the one to buck the current comedy drought. Based on the trailers, it looks like nothing more than a bunch of famous actor buddies getting paid large amounts of money to screw around in a project that looks more like an absurdly extended Funny or Die short than anything else. That said, while it may be extremely uneven at times, it does have two elements that have been in short supply in most recent comedies--a genuine sense of inspiration and, perhaps more importantly, a number of very big laughs--and at this point, that is more than enough.

As the film opens, actor Jay Baruchel (you know him, or maybe not, from the likes of "Tropic Thunder," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" or the great, though sadly short-lived, TV series "Undeclared") arrives in Los Angeles to spend a few days hanging out with best friend Seth Rogen (if a review of his filmography is needed, I can pretty much assure you that this movie is not going to be your cup of tea). After spending the afternoon getting stoned, playing video games and trying to puzzle out what gluten is exactly, Seth decides to go to a party that James Franco is throwing at his house and although Jay is not particularly enthused about going--he isn''t too big on the whole L.A. scene in the first place and the idea of being stuck in a crowded party filled with famous faces that he hardly knows sounds like sheer torture--he agrees to go along once Seth promises not to abandon him the minute they arrive.

Naturally, Seth abandons him the minute they get there and Jay feels like the odd man out as he navigates through the logjam of famous faces--Jonah Hill puts on an exaggerated display of being kind and open to everyone that only strikes Jay as being false and self-serving, Craig Robinson sits at the piano and belts out a little ditty entitled "Take Yo Panties Off," an obnoxious and coked-out Michael Cera wreaks havoc and even goes so far as to smack Rihanna on the ass ("Her?")--and is almost instantly ready to leave. After a while, he and Seth make a convenience store run that instantly turns into bickering that is just as instantly interrupted by a series of cataclysmic events that bear a striking resemblance to the apocalypse, right down to the ground tearing open to reveal the flames of Hell while some people ascend to the skies in a beam of white light.

The two rush back to the party to warn everyone else but while bickering over what it was that they actually saw, the crowd rushes outside and the cast list is quickly and gruesomely reduced to Jay, Seth, James, Craig and Jonah. As the five hole up in James' house while waiting to be rescued--they are celebrities, after all--things go downhill as the cable and Internet go out, their available supplies are meager (the home apparently contains tons of weird abstract art but nothing in the way of a tool kit) and without stuntmen or personal assistants, their survival skills are suspect at best. For a while, they try to pass the time by goofing off and filming sequels to their more notable films on a camcorder but as time passes, it finally begins to dawn on all of them that things are going to get a lot worse before they ever get better.

Speaking of things getting worse before getting better, the loathsome Danny McBride, the oaf from "Eastbound and Down" and "Your Highness," turns up to mess up the supplies while acting like the world's worst houseguest, a title he probably would have achieved even if circumstances hadn't reduced the competition. Even when the grotesque (and decidedly male) creatures straight out of the Book of Revelations appear on the scene and Jonah is both violated and possessed by a demon, those terrors actually seem kind of benign when compared to spending an extended amount of time with the likes of Danny McBride. Eventually, they realize that this is indeed the Rapture and they are forced to grapple with the questions of why they weren't chosen to ascend into Heaven and what, if anything, they can possibly do at this late date to change their ways in order to get there.

While watching "This is the End," I was reminded a little bit of the revue-style that the studios occasionally made back in the day when they had big stars under exclusive contract and wanted to put them all together in one big film that would theoretically attract all of their respective fan bases. These films, such as "Hollywood Revue of 1929" and "The Big Broadcast of 1938," were nothing but fluff that were made for the moment and unless you have a solid working knowledge of the entertainment industry and its major players at the time they were made, they don't really play well today for modern audiences who simply won't recognize the majority of those stars or any of the in-jokes and references that delighted viewers back in the day. That said, these films had a certain charm to them that was undeniable--they often felt like what might occur if cameras happened to catch those stars screwing around on the soundstages after hours--and long before the existence of things like TMZ, it offered fans a chance to see their favorites letting their hair down.

"This is the End" has that same off-the-cuff spirit (albeit in a much raunchier vein) and many of the better jokes are the ones in which the stars goof on their own personalities--Seth Rogen as the guy everyone likes, Danny McBride as a walking testament to all that is vulgar and profane, James Franco as the pansexual dabbler in all the meats of the cultural stew, Jay Baruchel as the one who supposedly disdains celebrity but who is clearly jealous that things haven't broken for him in the same way as it has for his pals. Of course, if you don't know who these people are, most of the film will no doubt fall as flat for you as the likes of "Hollywood Party," especially when the in-jokes start flying fast and furious (including gibes at such low points in their screen careers as "Your Highness" and "The Green Hornet"). However, all is not lost because the genuine sense of camaraderie between these guys, even when they fighting amongst themselves, is palpable and adds an extra layer of amusement to the proceedings that simply wouldn't have been there if the roles had been cast with people who only knew each other professionally.

This is important because the screenplay and direction by Rogen and Evan Goldberg are both uneven, to say the least. The script has some undeniably inspired moments--the extended party sequence is pretty much a riot and a bit where Emma Watson unexpectedly turns up develops so hilariously that once she departs from the scene, I spent the rest of the film wishing that she would reappear. They also make the smart choice to largely treat the material involving religion and redemption in a reasonably serious manner, or at least as serious as possible as can possible under the circumstances. (Not since "Dogma" has a film so deftly blended the theological with the scatological.) If nothing else, they space out the best jokes so that there are enough laughs scattered throughout to help get through the dull spots and bits that don't really work.

On the other hand, there are more than a few dull spots and bits that don't really work--especially the stuff involving the possessed Jonah Hill--and even though it clocks in at a reasonably short 107 minutes, there is still the sense that it might have been more effective with a much tighter edit. Making their directorial debuts, Rogen and Goldberg don't really demonstrate much in the way of a distinct visual style--this is okay when you are just dealing with a few guys in a room but once they start dealing with the chaos going on outside, they have no idea of what to do. Things might have been better if they had either given the script to someone with a keen visual style who could have properly handled such material or figured out a way of telling the story in which we never actually saw what was going on outside.

Nevertheless, "This is the End" is a reasonably ingenious and fairly successful exercise in contemporary slob comedy that is very funny in its best moments, very [i]very[/i] raunchy the rest of the time and contains one cameo appearance that is so hilarious that I implore you to avoid looking the film up on IMDB as they once again make mention of it as they did with the true identity of the bad guy in "Star Trek." Yes, it could be described as the most expensive home movie ever made but it does have a certain twisted charm to it that allows it to succeed where so many other recent comedies have crashed and burned as of late. It may not be the comedy masterpiece that some of its more ardent proponents have been claiming but until that film finally comes along, this one will do well enough for the time being.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23658&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/11/13 18:28:28
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell very funny forget the haters 4 stars
7/07/14 KingNeutron Better than expected - and the end makes you think 4 stars
12/29/13 Cleve Absolute POS - worse than TV comedies 1 stars
10/31/13 mr.mike It ran 100 minutes. It seemed like 100 days. 2 stars
10/15/13 Carl Well done fun film very funny. 4 stars
9/14/13 Langano Doesn't live up to the hype. 3 stars
7/10/13 Charles Kill It was pretty flawless for what it was the first time I watched...didn't last. 4 stars
6/21/13 PAUL SHORTT WITLESS AND WOEFULLY UNFUNNY 2 stars
6/18/13 Elizabeth Entertaining in a wacky, stupid way. One great cameo. 3 stars
6/16/13 Cornholio Could've been worse seeing how Rogen is a chode 3 stars
6/12/13 Marty Humble funny characters but the humor doesn't set itself apart from other comedies. Fun tho 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Jun-2013 (R)
  DVD: 01-Oct-2013

UK
  28-Jun-2013 (15)

Australia
  04-Jul-2013 (MA)
  DVD: 01-Oct-2013


Directed by
  Evan Goldberg
  Seth Rogen

Written by
  Evan Goldberg
  Seth Rogen

Cast
  Jonah Hill
  James Franco
  Seth Rogen
  Jay Baruchel
  Danny McBride
  Craig Robinson



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