This is the End
Dir: Evan Goldberg
As a writing duo, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen have had a bumpy ride. Having set the bar extremely high with Pineapple Express and Superbad, they failed to live up to the same standards with either the criminally bad Green Hornet or the wholehearted waste of talent that was The Watch. It is a pleasure to report then that while This Is The End may not match the sharp social observation or clever plotting of Superbad, in terms of laughs the duo’s latest pips even the best of their earlier work.
The film features an ensemble cast of Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, James Franco and Danny McBride playing fictional versions of themselves as they attend Franco’s house-warming party. While partying with various celebrity guests (notably a brilliantly vulgar Michael Cera), a biblical apocalypse sets upon Los Angeles and the funny men end up trying to survive in Franco’s house. Clearly, the plot is extremely thin and truthfully the film plays out like a collection of comedy sketches with a common theme and setting, but the fact that this lack of depth does not undermine This Is The End is a testament to the sheer quality of these sketches.
At times, the comedic material covers similar ground to much of their earlier work – many jokes revolve around drug use and male bodily functions – however, the apocalyptic spin thankfully allows room for numerous hilarious scenes, including a humorously homemade trailer for a Pineapple Express sequel. Similarly, while the character development is basic – relationships like the mutual hatred between McBride and Franco are relatively one-note – it still manages to set up some very funny jokes. The outcome is that these deficiencies can be overlooked, as you are laughing too hard to particularly notice.
Part of the joy of the film is watching these actors clearly having fun, as they play off one another in this ridiculous scenario. Their witty exchanges are almost Inbetweeners-esque as they find themselves discussing the most obscene topics possible in this apocalyptic wasteland. A particular highlight is the performance of Danny McBride, who romps around the set, becoming more comically boorish and unreasonable with every scene.
This Is The End also features a vast number of pop-culture references, which has the potential to cause certain people to miss some of the gags. Furthermore, the humour is unlikely to be to everyone’s taste. Perhaps those who prefer the more refined comic talents of Woody Allen will find the film a tad juvenile, but I suspect these people will not be going to the cinema to see it in the first place.
Despite these drawbacks, and the fact that the film loses its way a little in the final act, This is the End is exactly what it sets out to be: lewd, rude and utterly hilarious. It’s a return to form for the writing team of Rogen and Goldberg, and is sure to take its place amongst the most memorable comedies of recent years.