MRR Review: "This is the End"

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While attending a party at James Franco's house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse.
3.5

MRR Review: "This is the End"

-- Rating: R (crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use, some violence)
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: June 12, 2013
Directed by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Genre: Action/Comedy

Just about every apocalyptic movie has some sort of natural or manmade disaster at its core. "This is the End" is no exception, but the movie does something completely different by turning the end of the world into a very funny movie with some of the best comedic actors working today. The story begins when a group of friends led by Seth Rogen (playing himself) goes to a party being held at the home of James Franco (also playing himself). Franco wants to show off his posh new digs, so he throws a party to end all parties, pun intended.

The house is located in Los Angeles, which has seen some pretty massive earthquakes over the years. One such quake happens on the night of the party, and it is but a small introduction to what turns out to be the apocalypse. The actors, including Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, and Jonah Hill (all playing themselves), all survive the initial quake but must hunker down in Franco's house in order to try to survive the rest of the apocalypse. They realize they have very few supplies, as Franco hasn't stocked his new home yet, so they begin to wonder who might have to fight whom if it came down to the last drop of water or morsel of food.

While they wait to see if they will survive, they begin to make sequels to each other's movies using the infamous camcorder from Franco's film "127 Hours." It's a hilarious diversion from the big problems they'll encounter once they have to leave the house and face the outside world and all the new dangers it holds. In making these so-called sequels, the stars are poking fun at each other, their movies, and their public personas all at the same time. The result is a fun parody of celebrity culture that is sharp, witty, and a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.

It isn't unheard of for celebrities to play themselves in films, or at least slightly fictionalized versions of themselves. It is, however, very rare for such a large group of celebrities to do it all together in the same film. Such is the case in "This is the End," a film that doesn't seem to want to play by the conventional Hollywood rules. This is a boon for viewers, who will likely enjoy the respite from traditional movie tropes and the sheer inventiveness that codirectors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen have put into making this film. Of course, it doesn't hurt that many of these actors have worked together before, often in multiple films. Their obvious chemistry and comfort with each other is another reason why the film works so well. It also helps that none of them take themselves too seriously.

Having so many big comedic names in the same film could have easily backfired, but somehow, each actor seems to complement the rest of the cast. Each person has a specific role to play and plays it well. Though the lion's share of the credit for this can be attributed to the codirectors, who also wrote the screenplay, some of it should go to cowriter Jason Stone. The material and story are based on his short story entitled "Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse." It's a funny, almost magical piece of prose that helps to set the irreverent tone for the film. Sure, Goldberg and Rogen did a great job adapting the story, but Stone got the ball rolling.

The group of comic actors including Rogen, Hill, and Cera broke into the movie scene together with hits such as "Superbad" and "Knocked Up." Many film critics wondered if they could keep up the scorching pace at which they brought hilarious movies to the screen that were unlike anything else in theaters at the time. "This is the End" shows that this group of talented writers, actors, and producers still has plenty of hilarious tricks up their sleeves that will hopefully be turned into movies for many years to come. This bodes well for their careers as well as for movie fans who love a good popcorn flick full of fun, improbably funny situations. Most of these actors have also taken dramatic turns in films, such as Rogen's performance in "Funny People" and Hill's in "Moneyball," but comedy is their bread and butter, as this film reminds audiences between big, long fits of laughter.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5