Review: This Is the End / Cert: 15 / Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg / Screenplay: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg / Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel / Release Date: June 28th
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have teamed up to write and direct a feature based on the short film Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse. Rogen and Goldberg’s writing credits speak for themselves; they’ve had their hits with stoner and teen comedies and have decided to launch their directorial career with an apocalyptic comedy that subverts their personas, plays up to their critics and includes a cast made up entirely of their friends. Sure, it’s indulgent but if you’re a fan of any of those involved, it’s a playful, entertaining and amusing way to spend a couple of hours.
James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson make up the core cast, each playing an exaggerated version of their real-life selves. The narrative is simple and explores what happens when a bunch of head-in-the-clouds actors face the apocalypse. And so begins a race to reference as many movies as possible, including many of their own, with the cast even acting out a low budget version of Pineapple Express 2. It sticks to the formula of an end of the world thriller but it’s mostly an exercise in juvenile jokes, gross out, comedy cameos, self-reference and nostalgia. Highlights include a video diary confessional allowing for some amusing direct-to -amera cussing, Michael Cera as an out of control party animal, and a rivalry between Jay Baruchel and Jonah Hill (who’s written as the nicest guy you’ll ever meet).
The action is reminiscent of '90s disaster movies, with sinkholes sucking people up and electricity poles falling and bursting through chests. At times it feels like you’re on the Twister ride at Universal studios as the actors flee across well-trodden and hokey sets. The chemistry between the core actors is the real appeal here and the quieter, more intimate parts of the film work the best with petty squabbles delivering the laughter.
Repetition and overstretched jokes do become grating though and the running time could have done with a chop. Some of the parody sketches feel tacked on, not sitting well within the overall narrative and at times the film dips into really cheap gags. The soundtrack includes a mix of pop and rap that’s been used many times before but works well in context. A feel-good film about friendship, Franco’s fortress and the end of the world that’s incredibly enjoyable and highly quotable.
Expected Rating: 7/10