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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 06.12.13] apocalyptic comedy

The basic plot of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's This Is the End has been well documented in every bit of marketing for the movie (and frankly, when you have a cast like this one, why wouldn't you put their faces and those of many of the others who make appearances on everything? But worry not - there are surprises): a bunch of stars are at a party at James Franco's new digs when the end of the world hits. Most of the guests either die horrible deaths or disappear into the wilds of disaster stricken LA but a handful of them, Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, survive the initial wave of death and barricade themselves in the house in hopes of surviving until rescue arrives. After all, they're stars and everyone knows in case of an emergency, movie stars are the first to get rescued. Survival isn't their strong suit and soon, with supplies quickly dwindling and cabin fever setting in, the group starts to break and when the supernatural makes an appearance... it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

This Is the End is at its best when the actors, all of whom are playing exaggerated versions of their public personas, laugh at themselves and each other because there's nothing funnier than successful people making fun of their eccentricities and missteps. Some of the jokes are obviously playing on gossip and wild speculation (Michael Cera as a coke fiend who digs kinky sex, Hill as gay, McBride as an asshole) while others seem to be hitting closer to these people's reality and in some instances, I couldn't help but wonder the percentage of truth to fiction.

Amidst the laughs, of which there are many, This Is the End sometimes falls short and on occasion, sequences aren't only unfunny but downright bland. And then there's the movie's entire second act that unfolds as the guys try to survive. It's a mostly forgettable series of events which are occasionally dotted by a moment of comedic gold but overall, the movie seems to stall when the house gets boarded up and the guys wake to find an unexpected guest. By far the oddest and funniest of the second act sequences is the Jonah Hill attempted exorcism. I love the nods to William Friedkin's movie, though judging from the fact that only a handful of people laughed when Baruchel broke into "The power of Christ compels you," the joke didn't work for the rest of the crowd until Rogen made direct reference to The Exorcist, and then people laughed for another reason all together; it's not the only gag to receive this type of response but it's by far the most obvious. The exorcism bit eventually loses steam but it's a good way as any to kick off the third act which resurrects the movie in ridiculously over-the-top style.

Though the jokes aren't always successful, This Is the End does find a groove and when it works it's very funny, so much so that on at least one occasion I found myself laughing so hard my sides hurt. It's not a movie that everyone will laugh to, those not familiar with the body of work of these actors will likely find some of the references and jokes a bit too "inside," but the mix of comedy and ridiculous story should satisfy most who are familiar with this troop of comedians. And though I'm still disappointed that at some point Goldberg and Rogen's directorial didn't break out The Doors classic "The End," I'll take the wacky Backstreet Boys reunion and dance number any day of the week.

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Cletus (7 years ago) Reply

When you strip away the great special effects and slick production, you're left with raunchy jokes gleaned from every movie, skit, and/or show these guys have been in. Very disappointing. It compares to Rapture-Palooza except for the budget (Craig Robinson plays the devil in that one).

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