This Is the End is a comedy film on the surface. But lurking beneath the glossy, cheery exterior is a horror/disaster film of almost biblical proportions (specifically, the book of revelation). And it’s this combination that makes the film so alluring, captivating and enjoyable.
Superficially, there is a lot to not like about This Is the End. The film is produced directed by Seth Rogen and his friends, it was written by Seth Rogen and his friends and it stars Seth Rogen and his friends (plus some other big names from the performing world) playing themselves. It’s easy to mistake the film for some kind of indulgent ego trip, and perhaps the trailer and publicity didn’t help with this.
But after just a few minutes, it becomes clear that thankfully, the stars involved are all more than happy to play the fool for the benefit of the film, giving performances that are honest, giving an unwonted view that just so happens to be very amusing.
Some characters are played straight, others are a caricature of their real selves and others are blown out of proportion to exaggerate their personalities (or assumed personalities) for comic effect.
And therein lies a majority of the humour, leaving the rest of the plot for a dramatic story about the rapture, a terrifying, biblical end of the world scenario that takes place one night in the lives of this unsuspecting group of celebrities.
When Jay Baruchel meets his long time friend, Seth Rogen in LA for a catch up, he’s hoping for a quiet time with his best buddy, smoking weed and playing video games.
However, Seth has other plans as he’s been invited to a big party at James Franco’s house along with a bunch of his LA celebrity friends. The trouble is that Jay doesn’t like big social events leaving Seth emotionally torn between his commitment to his best friend and his desire to party with his Hollywood cohorts.
Seth persuades Jay to go along, but things are uncomfortable and soon the couple head out to a local store for provisions. It’s during this trip that all hell breaks loose – literally.
Powerful beams of light burn through buildings and people are levitated skyward. Jay and Seth look on as chaos ensues. The ground shakes, fiery chasms appear and the population of Los Angeles panics, thinking that the apocalypse is upon them.
Fortunately James Franco’s place is of sound construction and withstands the tremors. After making it back there, Seth and Jay join a small group of survivors who decide it’s best to dig in and wait for rescue.
Soon enough they realise that the cause of this drama isn’t environmental or an act of terrorism, but is in fact the end of days, the time when hell opens up to ingest the sinners.
After living a sinful existence, the group of actors including Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride must figure out how they can right their wrongs and make it to heaven before they’re claimed by the devil.
This Is The End is beautifully put together. The production is flawless from the showbiz backdrop at the opening to the ruined, demon filled, post apocalyptic landscape that follows.
Although the synopsis sounds simple, watching this group of people in this situation is thoroughly entertaining. The exaggerated personalities make for a melodramatic survival story where chocolate bars and pornography are given high value and where narcissism overrides righteousness.
Every member of the cast manages to balance the drama and comedy to perfection, making This Is The End as exciting as it is hilarious.
And the odd cameo from some unexpected individuals (including Rhianna, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd and Emma Thompson) just adds to the spontaneous, off the wall feel that the film has.
It was an exepected joy that I’d happily watch again, and I don’t say that very often.
If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud, fun flick about the end of the world, look no further.