Put yourself in this situation: you’re at the craziest party you’ve ever been to with all of your best friends, new and old, when out of no where hellfire rains down and the rapture begins. Seems hilarious, right? You may be surprised, but the apocalypse can be pretty funny in fact. This is the End, written, directed, and produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is perhaps the first film of the summer to really capture my attention and not let go. This ridiculous farce is a lot more than apocalyptic chaos (though it has it’s fair share) – it gives viewers an amazing insight into the friendship of some of the best comedic actors in the industry today.
This is the End tells the story of Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride facing the apocalypse together. Right away, my interest was peaked. Think about it; some of the funniest actors around all playing themselves trapped in James Franco’s house while outside the world is being destroyed. Just the thought of it is hysterical, but actually getting to see what would happen, how each actor would face the apocalypse, how they would get along with each other under those circumstances, well that’s something not to be missed. Particularly, this is because these are the comedians I’ve grown up with, having first seen them on TV in Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, then seeing them come to fame in films like Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express. Each actor has now found success on their own though, especially Franco and Hill, who have very diverse careers outside of comedy and make note of that throughout the film. In large part, the film is about maintaining the friendship these actors have had for over ten years and the effect fame has had on them. Of course, these actors are just playing embellished versions of themselves, playing off of the personas people often give these actors without truly knowing them. This element of meta-humor is so outrageously fantastic that you will gladly accept actors like Danny McBride becoming the leader of a cannibalistic cult or Jonah Hill being deservedly raped by a demon without batting an eyelash.
The film also has a slew of cameo performances in the beginning party scene from the likes of Rihanna, Emma Watson, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, and Michael Cera, who gives perhaps the funniest, most self-deprecating performance he’s given in years (You’ll never look at Capri-Sun the same way ever again). There are more cameos later on that should not be ruined as they pretty much make the film, especially the final scene, which I consider to be the best ending I’ve seen in a long time. These cameos, though fantastic, are just for quick laughs. In fact, most of the film is structured around hilarious interludes between the six main actors, ranging from trying to break through the floor to get water out of the basement (because Franco’s house is too cool to have stairs to the basement inside) to Rogen spiking Baruchel’s drink with ecstasy. The real heart of the story, though, is the relationship between Rogen and Baruchel, who are portrayed as the closest of all the friends but who are quickly being pulled apart with Rogen loving his fame and famous friends and Baruchel trying to stay out of the limelight. With Rogen and Baruchel being real-life best friends, this storyline gives This is the End an extra dimension of sincerity that really works.
What’s most appealing about this film is that not only does it work as a gross-out, hyper-sexual, laugh-out-loud comedy, but its also a story about friendship and growing apart as you get older and begin finding your own way, which is something extremely relatable. This is what makes the film a truly enjoyable watch…that and Hermione Granger wielding an ax and facing off against 6 grown men.
Review by Harrison Richlin