From the outset, This Is The End sets its stall out for all to see. It’s crass, self referential, and controversial. All to be expected “from the guys who brought you Pineapple Express and Superbad“. The real question is – is it funny?
The answer, unequivocally, is yes. Presented with just enough of a wink and a nod to how obviously self-indulgent it is (“Dear God, it’s me, Jonah Hill… from Moneyball“), This Is The End manages to contort its few staple jokes (swearing, and booze/drug/sex references) into 107 minutes of laugh out loud absurdity.
This Is The End breaks no new ground, and indeed this issue is raised in the first 10 minutes of the film – Seth Rogen is asked “You always play the same guy in the same movie. When are you going to do some real acting, man?”. The same is true of many of the other stars, with Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and in particular Danny McBride playing characters almost the same as we’ve seen them play many times before.
However, the strength of This Is The End comes from these performances. The chemistry between these co-stars, and clearly friends, mean that the dialogue – much of which was ad-libbed – is delivered by people who are literally trying to make their friends laugh, which, in turn, can’t fail to make the viewer laugh. And it’s not only the “main” stars (and the fact that promotional posters have six billed actors again speaks volumes as it being a vanity project), but also with the myriad cameo performers – Channing Tatum’s “I love him” being a particular highlight.
The plot is suitably shallow, with the crux being that the apocalypse has hit Hollywood – not before time, some might argue). The film feels as though it comes in three distinct phases, with the opening third exclusively Hollywood’s best and brightest enjoying a party, and all of the trappings that brings (with Michael Cera having a particularly hedonistic night). The second act shows our “heroes” and their increasingly pathetic attempts at survival, while the third takes a strangely religious turn, with some ideas which appear to be above its station based around rapture and salvation. Even with this departure, the laughs keep coming, with James Franco comparing the Holy Trinity to Neopolitan ice cream.
Interestingly, few of the funniest parts of the film were used in the trailers, though that is likely due to the content of those scenes – Franco and McBride screaming at each other over masturbatory etiquette (with Seth Rogen visibly laughing in the background), Pineapple Express 2, and all of Michael Cera’s scenes are worth the price of entry alone.
This Is The End would be very easy to dismiss. However, it’s presented with tongue suitably in cheek, asking you to take it for what it is. That is a very, very funny film. Luke O’Neill