This Is the End

Where it lags as a doubed-down comedy it makes up in sheer star power as the biggest frat-pack ensemble.

Frat-pack comedies hit an all-time high (excuse the pun) with The Hangover. In an attempt to raise the bar, This Is the End goes all out as an obnoxious, sexist, and highly outrageous inside joke. And the joke’s on Hollywood. 

The film is essentially set in two parts where we are first introduced to Hollywood celebrities playing themselves. These are not A-list celebrities but established comedians like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and actors of similar ilk. Basically, just about anyone from a Judd Apatow production. They are all here and they play themselves in the most unbelievable manner allowed in an R-rated comedy. The central theme is male bonding with Jay Baruchel exhibiting said issues when his friend Seth Rogen is invited to a party hosted by James Franco. At the party they meet Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and everyone else you can think of who are not in the same frat-pack league as Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and the likes. As you can imagine, the party is swinging with alcohol, weed, women and crude sexuality including a self-indulgent Michael Cera. But just when you think this is going to be an amped up version of Superbad or Pineapple Express, the story shifts into darker territory with an apocalyptic end-of-days scenario straight out of the Book of Revelations. What follows is a bizarre attempt at survival but filled with slapstick moments of under-belt humor, decapitation and dismemberment, exorcism, and an unending array of sex-gags; all of which are nothing new to the genre, but questionable as an outrageous comedy that literally grabs Armageddon by the balls. 

Is it funny? The answer to that question relies heavily on how much you like these actors or their previous films. We have seen Hollywood actors play themselves in similarly themed comedies. Think Neil Patrick Harris in the Harold & Kumar franchise or Bill Murray in Zombieland. But by sharing scripting and directing duties with Evan Goldberg, Rogen’s achievement, at best, is pulling jokes within jokes. There are multiple references to various Hollywood celebrities (even one about George Cloony and Sandra Bullock), about themselves and characters they have played in their own movies. All this may sit well with die-hard fans but what about the casual movie-goer with little or no tolerance for unintelligent storytelling? 

This Is the End gets to a good start with cameos of famous actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves. Emma Watson and Rihanna included, Hill even refers to his Academy Award nomination in Moneyball. Then things turn for the worse once Danny McBride arrives on his one-trick-pony, playing his usual crass and narcissistic self. In not saying that the film is entirely unfunny, it is also far from bland. Then again, this becomes a matter of choice. What all this boils down to is the fact that these actors are clearly having fun by mocking themselves. And by doing so, they are also saying that they can afford to do so because the awful truth of the matter remains that as long as idiots pay to watch their movies, they get to walk the red carpet and have a blast in the process.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.