Feb 24, 2014

[Movies] This Is The End (2013)

It's interesting how the Hollywood comedy world sort of goes through phases of talent. Or maybe phases isn't quite the ideal word - it just involves distinct batches of comedians whose careers seem to coincide and continually intersect for a time until they disappear and make way for the next generation. The same can probably be said about a whole bunch of other things, but today I only want to focus on comedy.

I was prepared to be disappointed by This Is The End since it seems like a forced gathering of a lot of the different comedy personalities that sort of represent the state of Hollywood comedy all in a single movie. These sorts of hodgepodge collections of actors don't necessarily turn out well since they seem to bank on the combined star power more than anything else.

But I wasn't surprised but how fun this movie would actually be and how the gathering of said talent turned out to be the perfect mix of comedians to get this story out there. And as silly as the premise may seem at first, at the end of the day it all just works rather well.

Synopsis: This Is The End is a 2013 comedy movie written and directed by the team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This is their first directing a movie, and it was interesting that they pretty much had all the different actors play themselves - or at least a fictional version of themselves.

Jay Baruchel arrives in LA and connects with his friend, fellow actor Seth Rogen. Seth in turn invites Jay along to attend James Franco's housewarming party. There are a whole host of celebrities at the party and the crowd seems a bit too much for Jay, so he and Seth steal out for a bit for a cigarette run at a local convenience store. While there, giant shafts of light suddenly envelope the various patrons and ultimately get sucked into the sky, leaving Jay and Seth alone in the store.

Jay and Seth immediately return to Fraco's house as the city is consumed by chaos. It's pretty clear that the blue lights represented The Rapture and the end of days was now upon them. Things get worse as massive sinkholes start to open up, eventually killing most of Franco's party guests. That leaves Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson as initial survivors and they hole up at Franco's house in order to try to survive long enough for help to arrive. Unknown to them Danny McBride had crashed the party and had passed out in a bathtub.

First, the decision to make everyone pretty much play themselves was delightfully hilarious. The odd cameo or two is typical movie fare by now and is good for a few laughs. But having everyone represent themselves and having a large number of cameo celebrities made for a heck of a lot of fun. It certainly provided a lot of unusual credibility for the movie's main party event and resulted in some even crazier situations once the Apocalypse had begun in earnest.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the core cast assembled for the movie, but the results were also great. Their respective characters provided an interesting mix of personalities in a single pressure cooker situation and how they try to survive makes for great fun. This is by no means a 100% realisitic depiction of how folks might survive the End of Days, but it does feel like a rational way for these particular crazy characters to manage to do so.

I was rather surprised by the quality of the CGI in this movie, as primarily used to bring to life the various demonic creatures now roaming the Earth. A comedy like this doesn't necessarily call for strong CGI since even hokey monsters convey the point you want to make. But the actual result was actually quite impressive and even felt better than a lot of movie monsters we've seen in recent horror movies.

The movie is pretty crazy and comparisons to Dogma are pretty much inevitable given the tone of things. And while this movie isn't quite as dialog-heavy as the Kevin Smith flick, it certainly knew how to keep things interesting without getting too disturbing. But of course, take everything with a fair amount of salt, especially for those who proclaim that they're pretty devout in terms of their religious beliefs related to the end of the world.

This Is The End surprised me by how much I enjoyed the movie despite the low brow humor and a bunch of comedians that I don't typically enjoy on an individual basis. Bringing them all together with this particular story worked out for the best and I'm glad that I took the time to watch this movie. On the whole it rates 4.5 surprise celebrity cameos and and the even crazier things that they do in-movie out of a possible 5.

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