This is the End (15) – Review
A lovely apocalyptic comedy from the people who brought you Knocked Up and Superbad, This is the End is a sketchy, meta-ey backs against the wall battle for survival against devil dogs, yawning chasms and demonic possession with (*removes pipe from mouth, raises eyebrow*) some top drawer willy jokes.
Everyone plays themselves. Dropping in on his mate Seth Rogan (played by Seth Rogan), east coast actor Jay Baruchel (played by Jay Baruchel) is taken to a party full of Rogan's celebrity mates thrown by James Franco. The best example of this Charlie Kaufman-like/light approach is ‘Michael Cera’, who’s an absolute cad and slaps Rihanna’s bottom. It’s based on a short called Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse, which gives a good indication as to the tone, but maybe that what the trailer’s for…
So the apocalypse raises the stakes with scary monsters and gigantic molten wangers but it’s a bit like when Doctor Who went through that slightly hysterical raising of the stakes from the cybermen at the end of the street to THE WHOLE OF SPACE AND TIME (and Timothy Dalton) being under attack a couple of shows later. The thing is, Seth Rogan and Jay Baruchel are entertaining and fun and interesting to watch when they’re just doing very little (watch Rogan in Take This Waltz for more evidence of this). Their relationship reminded me of Gill and Jay in Wheatley's Kill List, friends with drawbacks who are riveting when they’re sat in their lounge. These are characters who fall into arguments at the drop of a hat (or a roach) – This Is The End's 50 foot high demons are extraneous really.
Buuut, there’s a pitch for Pineapple Express that Franco and Rogan chat about which is great, Craig Robinson has one exquisite sight gag, Baruchel is new to me but one to investigate (there's a great scene where Robinson and Emma Watson ponder whether he's a hipster) and there's a song and dance number at the end! There’s also a really nice monologue from James Franco on art and Subway sandwiches which I loved.
Your mileage will vary depending on how you feel about the leads but it might be that another Kaufman movie (or joint – surely Rogan’s bifta-obsessed filmography merits Spike Lee passing the duchy of this title) would have been a better template. The Nicolas Cage-dazzling Adaptation turns the camera the other way and a movie about Seth Rogan and James Franco making a movie about the apocalypse would have kept things smaller and possibly funnier while also being super duper confusing. But while we’re waiting for Express 2 this particular apocalypse is a nice appetiser.
Review by Rob Barker