Review: This Is the End / Cert: 15 / Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen / Screenplay: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jason Stone / Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen / Release Date: Out Now
Crude, spoiled celebrities gather for an ostentatious, self-indulgent house party at actor James Franco's home in Los Angeles. The world ends, and so the scene is set for a crude, ostentatious and self-indulgent action comedy that emerges, against all odds, as the funniest film of 2013.
Wait, what? In the same year that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg brought us their World's End, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's apocalyptic Hollywood comedy came as the surprise victor, making the mildly disappointing World's End seem even more, well, disappointing. Not everyone will agree – they're a polarising gang of chaps, Rogen, Franco and Jonah Hill, and This Is the End arguably sees them at their worst. The likeable Jay Baruchel is the audience's focal point, being the least loathsome of the rich folk gathered at Franco's house. In a truly impressive opening act of carnage which sees the End of the World descend upon Hollywood, there's a sense of scale and apocalyptica which even the likes of Roland Emmerich should be jealous of, in spite of the film's comedic overtones. Unlike World's End, it feels plausible and organic, even at its silliest.
Playing (versions of) themselves, Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride are obviously having a lot of fun, and it feels infectious. Playing up to their usual on-screen personae (there's a great joke, early on, about Rogen always playing the same character and having an annoying laugh), it's a lot of fun seeing the guys poking fun at themselves, even if it does feel more than a little self-indulgent at times. Kudos, too, to James Franco for transforming from his being the worst actor in Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy to becoming quite the screen presence. He's loathsome here, in the very best way. While Craig Robinson and Danny McBride are the most fun to watch, the biggest laughs go to Michael Cera and Emma Watson.
The Blu-ray copy, aside from the film's impressive HD visuals, gives you over ninety minutes of special features, including multiple making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel and an original short film. Once you're done watching those? Well, this really is the end (geddit).
Detractors of this particular brand of comedians are unlikely to be won over by This Is the End. It's vulgar, excessive and sags a bit in the middle. Everyone else, however, should love the curious combination of Hollywood satire, nasty masturbatory jokes and apocalyptic humour. It may not be the be all and say all of modern comedy, but it is laugh-out-loud hilarious and a lot of fun too. Even if Seth Rogen does have an annoying laugh.
Extras: See above