Bro Comedy Shenanigans
A Film Review of This is the End
By: Lawrence Napoli
So you’re a hot, young Hollywood starlet who’s had a few significant hits on the film scene that makes you worthy enough to start rubbing elbows with some of your peers in “the biz” who already happen to be established. You all start seeing each other at the same parties, banquets and award shows and start becoming real life, actual friends. You’re going to tell me that you’re somehow not interested in getting all your boys together to make a movie filled to the brim with all of your own peeps? Of course you are, and although we’ve seen this “Avengers Effect” at work before (see Ocean’s 11 and several other franchises), we haven’t exactly seen it come to fruition in the comedy genre. Seth Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg came up with a script that essentially took the talents of a bunch of comedic Hollywood A-listers to South Beach (that’s an NBA reference, folks) in order to deliver some very inappropriate, often vulgar, curiously framed and utterly random series of events that delivers both shocks and guffaws.
Emma Watson ain't wielding no wand!
The plot of the victimized Hollywood celebrities is an amalgam of several “end of the world” scenarios with a hint of fantasy here and a dash of dogma there for a little flavor. What makes the story unique is that every celebrity plays themselves during the apocalypse and the audience is given a hilarious sneak peek at these people’s “supposed” lives prior to hell breaking loose and how they deal with it afterwards. According to Seth Rogen (via imdb.com) the script, “combined real characteristics of the actors who then produced bizarre alternate version(s) of themselves with elements that had absolutely nothing in common with the cast.” The script may have called for its actors to produce evil, mirrored visions of themselves for the camera, but this actually has more fun with the public’s perception of most of these individuals which is naturally based on the history of their fictional roles.
How much "real" is in the cast's performance?
For instance, James Franco is referenced as being some sort of a “Renaissance Man” for his numerous talents outside of acting, but his history of trolling critics that rub him the wrong way is equally well known. A Jack of all Trades that gets ultra sensitive if someone tells him “no” is exactly the kind of person that would assume a leadership role in a survival situation (and in the movies, this is the character everyone would want killed off because of poor decision making and being a general *sshole). Let’s just say that none of you will be surprised at how James Franco plays “James Franco” in This is the End. P.S. note that several of the cast came to Seth Rogen as individuals who expressed difficulty in acting the way parts of the scripted called for, but Franco never turned anything down. Is this the professional result of a finely honed actor, or a man being completely natural by acting like a tool? You decide.
I'm clearly the best actor here so recognition as anything less will have consequences!
Michael Cera’s performance as “Michael Cera” is an intriguing one in that his cocaine dependency in this film has him behave in what we would all presume is the furthest from his real life behavior than anyone could possibly imagine. And why? Because Michael Cera plays Michael Cera in every film; or at least that’s the public perception thanks to the history of his eerily similar roles. If the shear distancing from one’s self was the only way to evaluate performance, Michael Cera gives the audience the best acting of his career, but it isn’t really. We can all see shades of Super Bad here and there and he doesn’t exactly stick around long enough to fully explore the new “Michael Cera.”
This is the closest Michael Cera ever gets to Rihanna ever again.
Danny McBride? I’m sure he’s a real sweetheart of a human being . . . to his friends and family, but he certainly comes off like a cocky jerk. Guess who becomes the antagonist? My favorite moment was when he squares off verbally with James Franco and simply watching these two tremendous egos explode at each other onscreen is pure cinematic genius.
*uck your house, Franco!
Jonah Hill? Well, he isn’t skinny Jonah anymore, but that actually helps because he seems to have rediscovered his funny bone. Playing the perpetual peacemaker for the duration of the film only to reveal the deepest of animosity to some of his co-celebrities is actually quite insightful in presenting your garden variety, Hollywood fake: smiles and rosy cheeks on the outside, while biting through his or her tongue on the inside.
Jonah Hill is "America's Sweetheart?" Since when?
Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are our main characters whose relationship is the engine for our story which basically revolves around the comfort and/or fakeness of Hollywood circles that intertwine and may explain why some individuals are synonymous while others are always feuding. They are both funny enough in that they play the straight men to virtually all of the ludicrous tomfoolery being exerted by the rest of the cast. Whenever there’s even the slightest attempt to get somewhat serious, these moments involve at least one of them.
Buddy heroes . . . from Canada.
However, my MVP of this entire production must be Craig Robinson who shows incredible diversity, willingness to shift gears physically and emotionally while being totally funny in every instance. Robinson easily has the most charisma out of this entire cast and his consistency is impressive in that he steals virtually every scene. However, what impressed me most was the dramatic scene of concern and remorse he shares with Jay Baruchel in the second act which highlighted one of the few poignant moments of This is the End.
Shhhh. I'm the best part of this movie.
There isn’t a heck of a lot of action, but there sure is a decent amount of visual effects that start at the midpoint of the film and only increase in scale and frequency from there. Most of this film takes place indoors so the production team took advantage of incorporating CG and practical effects to make for some amazingly proficient “wow” moments while throwing in a couple of obligatory “gross” ones. I found the CG of the various demons to be extremely well done for a film that had an estimated budget of only $25 million which certainly means that most, if not all, of the cast worked for scale (and whatever marijuana Rogen scored for them behind the scenes).
Taking a walk outside reveals the sh*t-storm.
There isn’t much to say about This is the End other than it’s the most celebrity layered, buddy-survival-comedy that anyone has ever seen. You don’t even need to like anyone in this cast because their performances (overall) tend to evoke distaste anyway. And we Americans certainly do enjoy “hate-watching” thanks to the popularity of most “reality” TV programs out there. This movie belongs in anyone’s library to be whipped out whenever a bunch of friends come over and the only order of the day is getting stoned. Yeah McLovin’ is present, but he’s not enough to justify the $10 plus dollars you need to up chuck to see this in theatres. Save your bucks for Man of Steel.
This is the closest the rest of Superbad gets to Rihanna ever again.