'This Is The End': Reflective stoner comedy
MANILA, Philippines - The zeitgeist has produced apocalyptic films that have led us to question many things. They might have us question the social order, the meaning of our existence, or our individual beliefs.
The ones that I have liked have had a tone of contemplation, of taking stock of the world as we know it, and have led to a revaluing of priorities.
Then there is "This is the End," the directorial debut of actor-writer-producer Seth Rogen.
This hilarious, irresistibly fun, unapologetically lewd stoner-comedy employs a lot of the plot mechanics and end-of-the-world imagery you would expect from a movie with that title. But its focus is one that is familiar.
With the cast it boasts - Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride, and numerous cameos from their friends - you can gather the kind of movie that it is.
This is a movie for the man-boys who haven’t learned to grow up, about learning how to be good friends to each other. While also getting high.
One of the smart things the film does, especially considering it could have gone so wrong, is that it has the actors playing terrible versions of themselves.
It riffs on their own careers and acting tendencies. It makes statements about the superficial nature of Hollywood actors and how they mistakenly perceive themselves.
What we get to start things is Jay Baruchel arriving in Los Angeles (which he hates) to spend a weekend with his best friend Seth Rogen.
The problem is that Seth drags Jay to a party at James Franco’s and, well, Jay hates all those people there too.
This leads to hilarious sequences featuring the most insane and over-the-top Michael Cera we are ever likely to see, funny commentary on hipsters, and James Franco’s self-reflexively ironic statement about what art is.
After showing off how terrible and superficial these celebrities can be, things really start happening. The ground opens up and starts swallowing everyone.
The primaries, Baruchel, Rogen, Hill, Franco, Robinson, and McBride, are all stuck in the house together as Armageddon ensues.
For the most part, the film just has this small group doing goofy things trying to survive. Some little event or other will pop up, either from outside or among them, and that will provide some narrative tension.
The majority of the film, though, is just like a lot of slacker flicks that have characters hanging out trying to do stuff.
Having said that nothing much seems to happen, the movie zips along at a good pace.
Comedy is hard
Even though there isn’t really much narrative movement, the events generate a lot of laughs and the actors show off how great they are at comedy.
These are all gifted comedy actors, and throwing them together and letting them play off each other generates a two-hour laugh machine.
The film takes its good time, drawing out all it can from its setting, situation, and characters.
I am trying to talk about the craft aspects, but really, what this film does is it makes us laugh, and it keeps finding new and different ways to make us laugh until they have to end it.
The central theme of this, and of most comedy films that these actors have appeared in together - of friendship, male camaraderie, and what might be called the bro-mance - works even better here, as they are placed in an extreme situation.
While we know where the whole story will wind up, it is still fun to watch because of the way the characters are in constant conflict with each other.
There’s a reference to "Survivor," and it’s a smart one in that the dynamics of alliances and betrayal start to play out.
It is all couched in lewd humor and gags, and all of those laughs help to make a counterbalance for when the movie tries to go for poignant moments.
Taken on their own, those poignant pieces would be corny, but after the laughs and all that the characters go through in the movie, you can’t help but feel for them.
"This is the End" is the perfect movie to turn to when you want to forget the real world and give yourself up to laughing. Watch it with friends. It’s a riot. - Rappler.com
Here's the trailer: