Movie Review: This is the End

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Is it weird that I couldn’t help but feel a little sentimental while watching This is the End?

If I think about it, Seth Rogan and the rest of the “Apatow crew” kind of shaped my perception of what was funny movie comedy in my twenties.  And now as I approach the end of my twenties, This is the End almost feels like a celebration of everything that these six guys have done over the last few years.  Because they totally couldn’t have made this movie five years ago.  It was only through the climb from “Hey aren’t those the guys from Freaks & Geeks?” to becoming certified A-list comedy talent (and two of them have even become Oscar nominated) that we could appreciate the hilariously fictionalized versions of themselves that they created for this film.  It was years of getting to know these people through their on-screen and off-screen behavior that anyone could accept this movie for what it actually is, which, to be honest, is a self-congratulatory pat on the back for all of these actors.  Luckily, they do it in such a self-deprecating way that the self-congrats don’t feel gratuitous, and basically just results in us laughing at their expense, BUT at an expense that they intentionally created themselves.  I don’t know if what I wrote just made sense, I’m not going to reread it and just hope for the best.  [gets nosebleed, loses vision in right eye]

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And the “characters” in this movie were definitely great; from Franco’s sexually ambiguous artist, to Rogen’s selfish conflict avoiding wuss, to Jonah Hill’s holier-than-thou nice guy celebrity, to uh, well, Danny McBride being Danny McBride.  I think the only guy who pulled the unlucky burnt match in this one was Jay Baruchel, who was reduced to the straight man in a group of hilarious people.   But we sort of needed a grounded character; a normal person with which we could identify with.  But *if* Baruchel told a single joke in this movie, I don’t think I could tell you what it was.  Maybe my only criticism of the movie is that some of the “be nice people to your friends” stuff was a little forced, or maybe just got injected into a few scenes in order to set up the ending, but it wasn’t bad enough to damage the film overall. Everything Seth Rogen and Even Goldberg write about always ends up having some sentiment about being nice to your bros, anyway.

I can’t think of a better blend of comedy and action than what I saw in this film (well, maybe Hot Fuzz [OK, probably Hot Fuzz]).  While near the end of the movie you can finally start to tell what’s going to happen right before it does, I don’t think you can predict what actually happens in the third act when you’re still in the first and second.  The third act was absolutely nuts, and I loved it.  My girlfriend also pointed out an interestingly true fact: this movie had better special effects than Jack the Giant Slayer.  And that only had a budget 7x greater than This is the End…

I liked that this was a movie that wasn’t hesitant to kill off some of the main characters, as long as it was in a hilarious way.  These guys didn’t mind not making it to the end of the movie, or having the maximum amount of screen time possible, as long as they went out on a laugh.  And that’s not even getting into the amazing amount of cameos, almost all of which don’t mind succumbing to death for the sake of comedy as well.  Coked-up Michael Cera steals every scene he’s in.  That’s another guy who wouldn’t have been as funny in this movie if they made it five years ago.

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I think the joke in the first scene of the film (which Rogen wrote AND directed, btw) sums up the self-awareness throughout the film, when a paparazzi dude gets in Seth’s face and says “So, you play the same role in every movie, right? Why don’t you do something different? Hey, give me your laugh!”  These guys know who they are, and they let us laugh both with and at them.  Or more so, laugh at the public perception of who we think they are.  Except Danny McBride, I’m pretty sure he’s just being himself.  Though, 100% serious here, I think the argument between Franco and McBride may have been the most genuinely emotional Danny McBride has ever been in anything.  It was the perfect mix of his trademark dickishness, and complete and utter frustration.  He was a real actor for a minute there.  But in typical McBride fashion, it was about jizzing on stuff.

Rogen was on the Howard Stern Show last week to promote the movie (who is always a great guest, even if Howard always fixates for too long on Seth’s weed habits), and he told a funny story about how he was pitching Superbad to people a few years ago and almost every studio turned him down initially.  Then after it was a hit, he went to pitch Pineapple Express to the same people, and studio executives say “Damn, I wish I hadn’t passed on Superbad…!”  But then still turned him down for Pineapple Express.  Then when he was pitching This is the End, he had a talk with the same executives again, and the people were yet again like “Man, I was pretty stupid for not making Pineapple Express with you…!”  And then STILL turned down This is the End.  It was a comically sad story of just how bad most studio executives are at learning lessons in their business.  It’s so weird how a studio will give Will Smith an inflated budget for a pile of crap like After Earth without hesitation (MORE CGI BABOONS PLEASE!), but won’t give Seth Rogen any money to make R-rated comedies, which always end up profitable, because it’s something people actually want to see.  It’s probably because of Will Smith’s international appeal…  Stupid rest of the world, you’re why After Earth got made the way it did.  Then again, American audience approval isn’t so great; we made Delta Farce with Larry the Cable Guy because of it.  Anyway, Sony Entertainment keeps picking up Rogen’s films, and we should all be thankful for that.

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This is the End delivers some of the most consistent laughs throughout a film that I’ve seen in a long time.  And not just “through the nose” chuckles, but full on laughs.  At one point during a scene when the guys are just walking outside to another house, and nothing particularly funny is actually happening, I noticed that I had a huge smile on my face, because I knew something funny was about to happen, and I didn’t know what.  And that’s a great achievement for a comedy; making people smile during the moments when they aren’t even trying to be funny.

9.5 out of 10

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