This Is The End
Release Date: June 12, 2013
Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Writers: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (screen story); Jason Stone (based on the short film Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse by)
Stars: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride
MPAA Rating: R
This Is The End somehow manages to simultaneously be the most and least ambitious film Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have ever made.
On the one hand, it’s a large scale apocalyptic film with massive earthquakes, explosions, impalings and fully-rendered CGI demons that was made on a small (by Hollywood standards) budget. But on the other hand, it’s a film where Rogen simply embraces the fact that he and his fellow castmates essentially play the same thinly-veiled big screen versions of themselves in all of his films by forgoing the pseudonyms and having the actors use their real names. These two extremes actually blend really well together, since having the actors play exaggerated versions of themselves allows Rogen and Goldberg to take pot shots at how unprepared these pampered actors are to handle real-life danger and it allows the gang to poke fun at each other’s career missteps and public personas. (One of my favorite moments in the film is a brief cameo by Jason Segel in which he viciously and hilariously mocks his role on How I Met Your Mother – without actually ever mentioning the name of the show.)
For the most part, the film handles the apocalyptic carnage quite well. Most of the CGI stuff works, though there are a handful of shots that look like they got thrown together on someone’s Mac at the last minute when the money was running dry. But overall, it looks and feels appropriately epic. The problem the film suffers from though is one Rogen and Goldberg have struggled with throughout their careers – pacing.
This Is The End might actually be their worst-paced movie to date. It’s only an hour and 47 minutes long, but it feels much, much longer. There is no real flow from one beat to another or an overall arc that ties the whole thing together. Instead, it plays as a series of vignettes. The gang goes from one crisis to the next, mining each new situation for every possible joke before abandoning that premise and moving on to the next set up. The story feels very disjointed at times and it drags when there aren’t big laughs.
Luckily, the film is full of laughs. And ultimately, that’s its saving grace. There are so many wonderfully filthy jokes. Rogen, who always seemed fixated on male genitalia, outdoes himself in this one, giving us every penis joke imaginable, including giving the 50-foot tall devil that shows up at the end one of the largest penises ever captured on film. But beyond the dick jokes, everyone in the cast is given several moments to shine and the writing plays to their strengths. Though the clear standout is Danny McBride, who absolutely steals every single scene he is in.
Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen serve as the emotional core of the film. Baruchel comes to visit Rogen in LA in the opening scene, but its clear there is tension between the two longtime friends. Baruchel hates LA and isn’t overly fond of Rogen’s LA friends. He’d prefer to spend his vacation smoking weed and playing video games with Rogen, but instead gets roped into going to a party at James Franco’s house. And the party just so happens to take place the night the world ends, leaving Baruchel stranded with Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride as the Rapture happens just outside their door.
McBride is someone who can get a laugh with an unconventional line reading or a quirky facial expression. But he’s at his best when he is playing an unrepentant jerk. So when you put him in a situation where he’s stranded with a handful of other people in a confined space with limited supplies, his awfulness truly shines. He is a total bastard in this film and you will love every minute of it.
But while he clearly is the best part of this film, the other guys all get their moments as well. And Baruchel, who is the least famous of the crew and the one who has been practically invisible in the marketing campaign, actually serves as a solid leading man. He’s the most relatable character in the film and his relationship with Rogen gives This Is The End the emotional weight it needs to carry itself through the staggered pacing. Whether or not his issues with Rogen are based on real problems the two have had, they felt authentic and thus helped to ground the film.
And with Emma Watson swinging an axe at the guys, Michael Cera blowing coke in partygoers faces and demons busting through the walls to do unspeakable things to our protagonists, it’s definitely a film that needs to be properly grounded.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.