Wednesday, June 12, 2013

This Is The End Review: Spoiler, Everyone Dies

Have you ever seen a demon's wang? Did you want to? No? Well, if you sit in on This Is The End, this summer's high-profile comedy from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, you'll see a couple. But if it's any consolation  you'll also see one of the funniest and enjoyable films of the year.

But really, you'll want one of these. You know, for the devil penises.
This Is The End exists to basically ask the question, "How would a group of comedians handle the apocalypse?" Interestingly, the film is self-aware, so the actors onscreen are portraying the...actors onscreen. As far as comedies go, this cast is pretty impressive. You have your essential group of Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson, with some supporting work from the likes of Emma Watson, Danny McBride, and Michael Cera, among others. With an ensemble of this caliber, I was a little worried that some actors would get more screentime or jokes than others; but luckily, each character plays well off each other, and no one feels slighted. It should be noted that much of the fun had while watching This Is The End comes from the self-deprecating humor of the actors' personalities and acting history. If you're usually pretty bitter about this group's work, the movie won't change your mind (But if you need a reason as to why people find Michael Cera funny, don't overlook his role here - he's awesome as a coked-up party boy).

Admittedly, Nick and Nora didn't have nearly enough Rihanna butt-smacking.
The film opens with Jay Baruchel meeting Seth Rogen for a weekend together in Los Angeles, the bane of Jay's existence. Seth drags Jay to a party at James Franco's house with Seth's new celebrity friends, where we find out how much Jay despises this crowd. So when he and Seth leave to get cigarettes, it's only natural that the end of the world swings into motion, and Jay is forced to survive with the very people he hates. As far as comedies go, this one gets...pretty dark, actually. There's enough gore, violence, and rape jokes to categorize this as a black comedy, if not a horror/comedy film.  Scott Pilgrim gets impaled, several people get run over by cars, and there's more than a couple decapitations. It's not for the faint of heart.

One thing I wasn't expecting to impress me as much as it did was the film's special effects. For a summer comedy, I thought I'd see some cheap green screen usage or some generic monster models. However, This Is The End features fully conceptualized creatures, and yeah, they have dongles. But impressive cast and special effects aside, the film is, at its core, very funny. There are great gags and riffs, the most memorable being a fight between Danny McBride and James Franco regarding McBrides "me time." If you look closely, you see even Seth Rogen unable to keep it together.

After seeing This Is The End, I'm anticipating a bit of controversy. Ironically, after several apocalypse movies over the past few years, this raunchy comedy is the first to reference the Biblical Judgment Day. Any sticklers who tend to be easily offended by media that messes with theology won't enjoy this particular movie. Much of what the film asserts as the "rules" of the apocalypse don't really align with what Christians believe. However, as a Christian myself, I can happily say that This Is The End never craps on religion. It only plays with it, and nothing winds up feeling offensive.

But I was cool with Dogma, so grain of salt and all that.
Potential whininess aside, This Is The End is well worth seeing. It's a fun time with a lot of great comedy thrown in, even if it gets a bit too dark for its own good at times. Most importantly, though, I can't say how relieved I am to see a truly enjoyable film. After a summer that's been laced with mediocrity (Star Trek, Now You See Me, After Earth, The Purge), This Is The End provides the amount of excitement we expect from summer movies but haven't actually received since Iron Man 3. Check it out as soon as possible, because we all know Man of Steel will be the only movie discussed after this weekend.

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