“This Is The End” is, by no means the end. I consider it, in fact, a beginning, and a hilarious and wild one at that.
The movie opening today about those currently specializing in playing whiny, stoned-out, spoiled-brat, filthy-brained arrested adolescents seems to have just given us a wildly inventive and hilarious horror comedy that justifies everything – and I do mean everything – they’ve ever done before. It’s that creative.
How creative? Let me just say that the best Lindsay Lohan joke I’ve ever heard is in this movie. And way beyond that, there’s a joke about a hugely popular current beefcake heartthrob whom I can’t name for you because it’s part of the biggest belly-laugh I’ve had all year. It’s who he is that makes the joke so sick and so funny.
And these folks are all giving us this hilarious horror comedy by – get this now – going back to the future: ’30s and ’40s radio and movies to be specific. They have officially given these folks an enormously creative way to make the nuttiest 21st century movie comedy you’ve seen in a long while.
In other words, everyone in this movie putatively plays themselves – or rather they use their own movie actor names, with wild and wickedly funny new twists on their established personalities, e.g., Jonah Hill is a pudgy, phony baloney coastal fake whose constant oleaginous kindness to the least known of their number – Jay Baruchel – is a clear-cut concealment of pure loathing.
So just as Jack Benny (real name Benny Kubelsky) was known in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s for being fictionally cheap, and Gracie Allen (real name Gracie Allen) was known at the same time for being fictionally ditzy, and W.C. Fields (real name William Claude Dukenfield) was known for being fictionally stingy and mean to children, here’s what we have here: Seth Rogen and his actor buddy Jay Baruchel going to a party at the lavish Hollywood Hills digs of James Franco. The whole gang is there.
Look, there’s Michael Cera snorting half of Guatemala up his nose and getting serviced by two girls at once. And over there is Emma Watson, sans Harry Potter.
Rihanna is laughing and boogieing down to some raunchy “hit music” by Craig Robinson. Danny McBride is acting up. And Jonah Hill, as previously noted, is searching for unearned sainthood, Hollywood sissy actor division.
Jason Segel? Sure, he’s there around the corner.
It’s the movie’s joke that all these busy, busy naughty boy comedy actors hang out together and like to congregate at James Franco’s house to get high, drink, eat and burp.
Everyone makes jackass ganja and masturbation jokes, just to make sure we’ve got the two major bases of teen boy comedy covered.
And then, in the middle of the party (but beginning of the movie), a disgusted and disenchanted Baruchel takes a walk to a nearby deli for cigarettes, and a funny thing happens on the way: the apocalypse, in fact.
End of the world. All that.
Holes open up in the ground. Real big holes. We’re way, way beyond even a 7.5 earthquake here.
And look, over there: All kinds of people rise to heaven in a sheath of blue light. It’s The Rapture, folks.
And – a great joke – while it’s all beginning to happen outside, it’s completely unfelt by those clueless inside Franco’s party because his Hollywood Hills domicile is that well-built.
Not for long, though. Eventually, all hell breaks loose in Los Angeles County. It breaks loose in the rest of the world too. But Franco’s house is still well-built enough that these doofuses left behind by The Rapture (i.e., the ones who haven’t ascended to heaven in an elevator of blue light) survive inside Franco’s house while the world around them turns into hell on Earth.
Huge demons are on the prowl. (Let me just say this about Jonah Hill, without specifying – he’s in a heap of trouble.)
So in this Hollywood convocation of sissy boy actors and their entourages (“We’re actors!” is how they themselves put it, as they wail in freelance choral terror. “We’re soft as baby----!”), they huddle inside Franco’s weirdly sturdy house and try to survive the end of the world which, right outside the door, has become quite annoying, even perilous.
You’ve got to admit – the choice of the End of the World as We Know It as this movie’s setting is a pretty funny focal point for a horror comedy in the tradition of say, “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” or “Ghostbusters.”
And that’s why Rogen and his writers triumph so resoundingly here (co-director Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg have now officially made up for any doubt you may have had about their raunchy juvenility in “Superbad” and, especially, “Pineapple Express”).
As with Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder,” the big joke here is what spoiled, backstabbing, Hollywood doofuses actors are. DMZ solipsism is their hilarious constant response to the apocalypse, but the true greatness of the joke is that most of us, if forced to be honest, would find it hard to see the, uh, Big Picture when confronted with the End of the World. The little picture would be more than enough.
These actors are barely able to manage life’s simplest life tasks by themselves in the real world. Their response to the end of the world is even funnier than Stiller and his buddies caught up in real war.
Just as ’30s and ’40s radio and films did (most notably Warner Brothers cartoons), “This Is The End” gets a huge number of laughs from the real names and figures of Pop Culture America, all painted here as comic pals of the inner circle, always ready to hang out at the drop of a massive blunt. (Some of the joints in this movie are the size of baseball bats.)
This is a truly wild and crazy summer megaplex horror comedy from a couple of guys that I, quite frankly, didn’t think had this kind of creative anachronism in them.
And with Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight” opening locally two days later – a movie of dramatically opposite excellence – this is, far and away, the movie opening weekend of the year on my scorecard.
This Is The End
Three and a half stars (Out of four)
Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Emma Watson, Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill in Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s ultra-raunchy horror comedy about the Apocalypse interrupting a stoned-out bunch of party-going actors.