Picture a writer’s room and someone blurts out “what would happen if the Hollywood’s comedic talent got stuck in the middle of the apocalypse?” The concept is ripe for a skit on ‘Saturday Night Live’ but it’s a stretch in ‘This Is The End’. The heightened self-awareness of all the talent involved results in big laughs, but it’s a series of sketches loosely strung together.
Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to stay with Seth Rogen for the weekend and they attend a house warming party at James Franco’s house but the end of the world crashes the party.
The self-depreciating humour of ‘This Is The End’ is the film’s strength and cameos from card carrying members of the Judd Apatow film club are great. The core group of Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, have a wild time poking fun at each other. On writing and directing duties Evan Goldberg and Rogen play around with each actor’s celebrity status and resume to date. Hill’s Academy Award nominee status makes for a few great gags, Rogen’s lack of variety in film roles is a punch-line and Robinson gets confused between “acting” tough and actually being strong. Franco and McBride get all the good stuff with their beefed up meta-selves. Franco plays up his pampered artistic side and his adoration of Rogen is hilarious. McBride completely throws himself into playing the closest thing the film has to a central villain and he’s hysterical. Franco and McBride go head-to-head in a scene featuring a soiled magazine that may result in flabby stomachs turning into rock hard abs.
Goldberg and Rogen make the comedic moments work brilliantly but a flimsy plot built on the declining friendship between Baruchel and Rogen grates throughout. The relationship switches between serious conflict and a “bromance” parody too often. Laughing at the apocalyptic situation is fairly easy in the hands of Goldberg and Rogen, but it becomes difficult when they want the audience to care. Baruchel also has the hard task of not getting to indulge his persona completely in the lunacy of his co-stars and he does an honourable job playing it straight amongst the chaos.
‘This Is The End’ is an elaborate in-joke and everyone’s in on the gag.
The Popcorn Junkie