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Review: This is the End

June 24, 2013

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


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As directing debuts go, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s apocalyptic comedy, This is the End has got to go down as one of the most unambitious. The film is, after all, effectively just six actors playing themselves, albeit satirically you gather. Old friends Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen reunite in Los Angeles and end up at a party in James Franco’s house along with pretty much every other famous person in Los Angeles. Soon however, everything starts to go bad, and not the person getting stupidly drunk and vomiting everywhere at a party bad. A fiery sinkhole soon kills off all the party guests leaving just Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, James Franco and Danny McBride as the only survivors locked up inside Franco’s fortress.

There is a concern early on in the film that this is just one massive vanity project from Rogen and Goldberg and a chance to flaunt all the trappings of wealth and popularity. They’re not immediately likeable either. Whilst hopefully they’re more parodies of themselves rather than actually themselves, they at first appear shallow, superficial pot heads, though after the disaster they become more likeable as the self-deprecation is cranked up with the arrival of Danny McBride. James Franco is pretentious, Seth Rogen is a sell out and they constantly mock each other’s films. Nevertheless, they’re still very uninteresting characters and the story is threadbare at best.

But all that is forgotten when the laughs come as thick and fast as they do here. The humour is everything you’d expect from a Seth Rogen film, with immaturity, swinging penises galore and lots and lots of jokes about jerking off. Thankfully Rogen and Goldberg play it innocently rather than crudely and one particular angry exchange between Franco and McBride about jacking off is as hilarious as it is immature. Neither has the team’s edginess disappeared either, as shown as the survivors get into an argument over who is most likely to rape Emma Watson.

The relationships between the characters rounds up the heart of the film and whilst the relationship between Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen is extremely clichéd, the real life friendships between all of them is evident as the chemistry is electric and jokes which would seem infantile and crude, are genuinely funny.

This is the first film Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have directed, and in some places it shows. A POV shot of a decapitated head being kicked around is particularly odd and the action is clumsily shot in some parts. But mostly, it’s very assured, even though it’s hardly 2001.

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If you don’t like Seth Rogen films, you’re not going to like this. It’s not got quite as much heart as his best films like Knocked Up or 50/50, but to be honest, when you’re having this much fun, it’s easy to overlook the weak characters and storyline.

Samuel Richardson.

This is the End is released in cinemas this Friday 28th June.