You would think that “This is the End,” a movie about a group of Hollywood actors that basically play themselves for no reason would be self serving and self indulgent. And you’d be correct. Even in its breaking of the fourth wall and satirizing of its stars (that probably only the stars and their friends really would find laugh out loud funny), “This is the End” isn’t a bad movie. In fact for the first forty five minutes, it’s really funny and works as a goofy apocalyptic horror comedy. The rest is just filler, endless montages, and flat improv (mostly from Rogen).
You really have to be aware of headlines involving the stars of this film to understand the jokes. And more importantly you really have to know the stars of the movie. Directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen fill the screen with their friends and very in vogue comedians, many of whom I didn’t quite recognize. The rest of the movie either plays up the reputations of the stars, or exaggerates them for comedic effect. To a varying degree of laughs. Michael Cera is known as a meek and humble guy, so it’s funny to see he’s a coke snorting, sex crazed jerk when partying. And James Franco is an artist, so the writers plays up Franco’s bad art and his pretentions. Jonah Hill is known as mostly a nice guy, so he plays a very sensitive version of himself who is passive aggressive and obnoxious. And there’s Craig Robinson for reasons I can’t quite figure out.
I think the better fit for the cast would have been Kevin Hart, but Robinson was in “Pineapple Express,” so he’s in. Truly, Robinson is good for screaming like a woman for most of the movie, so his contribution is just that and only that. When Seth Rogen picks up friend and fellow actor Jay Baruchel for vacation, the two ready themselves for a fun week, which includes stopping by friend James Franco’s house to party for the night. Of course a bunch of people show up, many of whom I assume are popular, and there’s a pretty funny and brief cameo by Paul Rudd. When Jay and Seth witness a horrifying earthquake followed by mysterious blue rays of light carrying people in to the skies, the pair retreat to James’ house, where an apocalypse has now taken place. With a group of men now stuck in Franco’s house with limited supplies, they hope to wait out the end of the world and figure out why judgment day has left them stuck on Earth fending for themselves.
And looking for scenarios to fill the run time that eventually wear thin. There’s a video diary meant to recall “127 Hours,” there’s a splitting of resources which include liberal use of a porn magazine, and eventually the writers just break the fourth wall altogether and stage a lame sequel of “Pineapple Express” which the guys use to pass the time. Really, “This is the End” is funny once Danny McBride enters the story. As Danny McBride. Again, I’m not too sure who he is, but once he wakes up in Franco’s house to learn about the apocalypse, McBride really manages to steal the scenes away from literally every cast member. His one liners are hysterical, and his disgruntled grumbles really give the movie the shot in the arm it needs. That said, “This is the End” has a unique twist on the apocalypse horror comedy, with some excellent special effects, but writers Rogen and Goldberg run out of ideas before the second act and just half ass it until the end credits. It’s a comedy definitely worth watching, but it’s only a notch above mediocre, when all is said and done.