When it comes to comedy, is there such a thing as too much? Is it OK to play soccer with a decapitated head and for five guys to discuss “a rapey vibe” in the air while Emma Watson rests in a nearby bedroom?
This is the End is crude, tasteless, bloody, and, at its best, riotously funny, in the guiltiest of pleasures kind of way. Based on Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, a 2007 short by Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, and Evan Goldberg, it involves a drunken, drug-fueled party at James Franco’s mansion (all the actors play themselves) in the Hollywood Hills that’s interrupted by the first signs of the apocalypse. Soon, L.A. is on fire and a giant sinkhole on Franco’s front lawn swallows all the bad elements (only the “good” survive). It’s a fast-paced mix of horror, comedy, and monster sci-fi and there’s cameos everywhere: I counted 26, including Rihanna and a major Hollywood heartthrob I won’t spoil for you, but whose few seconds on screen nearly steal the movie while potentially ruining his career.
Right off the bat, the movie lets us know these actors are making fun of themselves. When Rogen picks up Baruchel at LAX, a guy with a camera recognizes him and asks, “You’re playing the same guy in every movie. When are you going to do some real acting?” Baruchel hates L.A. in the same way Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer hated it in Annie Hall, but what he encounters tops his worst expectations. Baruchel is confident, though: “When the quake hits, who will they rescue first?” he asks, rhetorically. “Actors!” Eventually, the saved rescue themselves and meet in heaven, a place where you get everything you wish for: pot, women, and music, in the form of another major surprise cameo (and this is no spoiler, believe me).
Plenty of action, terrific one-liners, and surprises make you forget this is a one-joke movie, but it works best when the boys just talk to each other in rapid-fire delivery. Even the Emma Watson scene, with Craig Robinson denying the “rapey vibe” rumors while wearing a “TAKE YO’ PANTIES OFF” T-shirt is a killer, not just because Watson gets the upper hand — having Jewish comedians talk about Jesus and salvation is something to behold.
This ain’t Bergman or Kurosawa, folks. This is just another stoner buddy movie for those who enjoyed Pineapple Express. Give it a try, and don’t bring the kids.
This is the End
Dir. Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen; writ. Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Jason Stone; feat. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson (R)
Opens Wednesday at most Santikos