If you have either eyeballs or earballs, you know that Apocalyptic, End of the World, Doomsday Raptureporn is all the rage in Hollywood these days.
You’ve got your World War Zs, your Oblivions, your Seeking a Friend For the End of the Worlds.
As such, you want to make your Apocalypse movie stand out. You want some kind of new take. Especially in a comedy.
This is the End does not really offer a new take. So as a rapture film, it’s kind of dull. As a “bunch of dudes hanging out” movie, though, it’s expectedly hilarious.
The movie opens with Seth Rogen, who co-wrote the film with his partner Evan Goldberg, picking up his best friend Jay Baruchel from the airport.
Jay hates Los Angeles and doesn’t like Seth’s new Hollywood friends, but Seth drags him to a party at James Franco’s house.
There, Jay continues to feel isolated and bitter, until, well, the rapture hits.
Lots of people die, leaving Seth, Jay and James holed up in the house with Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill, and later, Danny McBride.
At that point, it’s your basic survival film intercut with some comedic Real World-esque “getting along” moments.
Comedy definitely ensues.
This is the End has some big issues, though.
Most glaringly, it’s a tad odd that two Jewish stoner dudes wrote a movie about the Christian Judgment day. Religion is only vaguely addressed (in a “Who knew this would really happen?” type of line), but if you’re not a Christian who believes in the rapture, then the plot feels a little old hat.
Then, there’s the issue of character. With all the actors playing themselves, the choice to make the cast members exaggerated versions of themselves was probably a wise one.
But those exaggerations are so one note that it gets tough to watch after a while. How many times can we see Jay, the butthurt guy, get placated by Jonah, the obnoxiously compassionate guy.
Or James, the self-obsessed egomaniac confront Danny, the sociopathic slimeball.
Ultimately, it may have been more fun to just see a documentary about these guys, (save maybe Jay, who I’m sorry, has absolutely no energy or dynamism to speak of) really being themselves, hanging out in the trailer before they’re called to set.
The myriad cameos are fun, including an against-type Michael Cera and Emma Watson, but the plot is very thin.
After the initial apocalyptic incident traps the guys in the house, there’s about an hour of petty bickering with very little forward progression.
And it’s tough to keep yourself from thinking about the ending the entire movie. This can’t end in very many ways, given the very clear End of Days setup. Without spoiling the ending, exactly what you probably think will happen thirty minutes in happens.
That said, some genuine laugh lines are borne from the rather static, predictable story, and the final scene after the climax is pretty darn fun.
Ultimately, very little effort was made to make This is the End anything more than a comedic take on your standard Doomsday flick. And when the majority of the film takes place in a living room, it really leaves you wanting something revelatory to happen. But it just doesn’t.
Take away the rapture part, this is a 3.5-star comedy. Take away the comedy, this is a 2-star Apocalypse movie. Put them together, here’s what you get: