I went into this movie having only seen teaser trailers and TV spots. Never cheated and read a full plot summary or a spoiler-y review, so I wasn’t aware of any specific plot details. I don’t want to spoil it in this blog, but I feel like I can’t write a decent enough review without referencing specific plot details. Especially because it’s almost 2am and I’m trying to stay awake on pumpkin and candy corn-flavoured jelly beans. Good thing I’m not a proper film reviewer.
This Is The End was a movie I was sort of “meh” about, as I felt it was getting more of the limelight from the similarly-titled (but not really similarly-themed) The World’s End, which is really only similar in that they both have the words “The” and “End” in their titles. So I felt a bit overprotective of my fellow Brit’s film and sort of didn’t bother watching this one out of some sort of half-arsed half-spite. Well, I missed out! This movie starts out as everything I thought Ocean’s Twelve was and less: showing rich, pleasant, famous actors (Seth Rogen and the increasingly adorkable Jay Baruchel playing hyper-exaggerated versions of themselves), going to James Franco’s house for a New Year’s party. Franco’s house is depicted as a shamelessly expensive, over-stylized “fortress”, full of terrible pseudo-art and apparently no toolboxes. The partying and the drugs and the drinking and the “hey look here’s Rihanna singing with the guy from Hot Tub Time Machine while Emma Watson and Jonah Hill look on” never quite get the chance to wear thin as you know this is leading somewhere.
When it does, much of the guffaw-spitting comedy is derived from the ways in which these spoiled, self-absorbed, cowardly actors react to the situation they’ve found themselves in, as well as to each other, so the tonal shifts from horror to comedy are fairly smooth, because we’re pretty much always laughing at rather than with them. Aside from a truly disturbing, ironic turn from Michael Cera, most of the hyper-realized characterizations are true to their IRL counterparts, including the friendship histories, making banter and cast chemistry one less thing to worry about (and one more fun thing to watch). They’re also brutally sending up their own positions of privilege (using duct tape and designer snowboards to board up a hole in the wall), helped by Baruchel’s lonely, left-out outlier bemoaning the fakeness of all of Los Angeles and how he doesn’t want to be part of the actors’ scene.
At just over 100 minutes, the movie’s pacing never succumbs to its lack of prey, particularly as it’s dangling the question of “what’s happening?” in front of us for at least the first act. And the humour, the thing that these guys are already experts at doing, propels the barely-there narrative (even though at one point, it’s stated that weeks had gone by). But what was surprising to me was the amount of heart the movie had, even under the layers of mocking their own movies, and the ejaculation and fart jokes (come on, who’s going to look at someone carefully cutting a block of cheese and not at least mention it?). Much like the shamelessly sweet scene in Jonah Hill’s other movie Superbad, there are plenty of scenes in which the guys discuss their long-term friendship the way that long-term couples do. Even when the cannibals show up, there’s still a bittersweet moment or two in this one. It’s crude and a bit self-referential in places, but comedically well-crafted and not as bro-ny as the trailers might make it seem.