01st Jun2013

‘This is the End’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, David Krumholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Paul Rudd | Written and Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

This-Is-The-End

Apparently the apocalypse is the theme du jour of offbeat comedies, with last year’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Pegg, Frost and Wright’s upcoming The World’s End accompanying this effort by Seth Rogen and friends (three’s a trend right?). The film sees Rogen directing alongside Evan Goldberg and playing himself, alongside Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and James Franco. Rogen and Baruchel head over to Franco’s house for a crazy Hollywood party, only for the merrymaking to be curtailed when a biblical apocalypse poops the party. The righteous ascend to heaven but Rogen and co. are left on earth and must try to survive the aftermath of the end of days.

I wasn’t aware that the actors would be playing themselves and this little surprise was the cause of the majority of what humour the film had for me. It’s always funny to see public figures sending themselves up and watching the sextuplet of actors snidely criticise each other’s films was mildly amusing. For a while.

Additionally, I had noted that Michael Cera was in the film and mentioned it to a colleague. They groaned that he always plays the same character in all his films. Not so in this – the Rihanna bothering, coke snorting version of himself that Cera plays is something completely new to his oeuvre, is fairly outrageous and is easily the single funniest thing in the film. Unfortunately, he’s not in it very much and I found little else particularly enjoyable about This is the End.

The film was spawned from an eight minute short starring Rogen and Baruchel in 2007. What it has become is a stodgy, overlong, indulgent and only passingly amusing film that serves as a vanity project for its stars and as a fairly tedious exercise in the limits of your patience for everyone else. Actually, that’s what I thought – seemingly everyone else in the cinema thought it was the funniest film they’ve ever seen, judging by the roars of laughter in the auditorium. Well, the guy next to me was as unmoved as I was, but that seemed to be about it. I don’t want to seem like a stick in the mud and I like to think I have a very good sense of humour, but honestly, after the initial amusement of the actors’ self-criticism had worn off and Cera had exited, there are only so many knob jokes you can really get excited about before the tedium sets in.

The modular approach of the film makes it feel like a series of skits knitted together rather than a coherent narrative. This scattershot approach means This is the End is unfocussed and proves a challenge to maintain interest in. And it keeps throwing bit after bit at you, relentlessly. Fairly late on in the film, one distinct segment began and I literally groaned as I realised we’d be watching the thing for at least another twenty minutes before it wrapped up. I also found it a bit of a stretch that the cast seem to regard their collected works as some sort of canon. I’m unsure how well many of the cultural references will travel too, with many of them going over my head at least.

But the film’s biggest problem is its near complete lack of roles for women. This may not be the coolest criticism to level but I’m honestly confused as to why there aren’t more than a couple of cameos for female actors in this sausage-fest of a film. Emma Watson, the aforementioned Rihanna and Mindy Kaling are pretty much the only women with speaking roles in the movie (I think Rihanna gets about a line) and even then you could probably write all their dialogue down on a single side of A4 and still have enough room to draw a detailed picture of the collective male ego of the protagonists of This is the End being further stroked by the mountains of cash it will no doubt make and therefore have licence to produce more of this kind of self-indulgent toss. Comedians that would have us believe that they’re as progressive and intelligent as they seem to think they are really should be able to do better than this.

This is the End is released in the UK on Friday June 28th.

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