This is the End (2013)
Directed by: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan
Running time: 107 minutes
Now Showing this week is This is the End, a comedy-horror film written and directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan. The attention grabbing premise is that every person featured in the film is not playing a character but is rather playing themselves, either accurately or as an amusing fictional representation. Actors Jay Burachel and Seth Rogan attend a party at James Franco’s new house, along with a cast of other actors such as Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, that soon turns sour once the biblical Rapture begins outside. Suddenly the world as they know it is enveloped in fire and numerous people have been lifted up to heaven, and they are all left trapped in Franco’s home wondering why they haven’t been rescued themselves. Naturally, shenanigans ensue.
From the get go, This is the End was a film that was either going to excel with originality or fall flat on its face, tripping over its own concept. Thankfully the film leans more towards the former and less towards the latter, making for a Hollywood comedy that is a little different from what we are used to. The idea of having the actors playing themselves in the story rather than characters was a very enjoyable novelty, with a highlight being many of the actors critiquing/mocking each other for some of their more universally reviled roles and celebrating their achievements together. But for me the best parts of this self-awareness experiment were, ironically, the parts where an actor were not playing themselves, but a hilarious polar opposite to how we (the audience) perceive them. Michael Cera, for example, is known for his awkward, sheltered, weird teenage loser characters, but then to see him being a crazy cocaine user and soliciting oral sex from party floozies was definitely side-splitting! There were many other characters (can I call them that? This is really confusing!) like him that were very amusing, but I shan’t reveal them for the sake of spoilers.
Building upon that, the actors whom played more accurate portrayals of themselves (or at least, what one can assume were accurate. You can never truly be certain) did so a little bit to their detriment, more so than coke fiend Cera! The best example I can think of for this would be Seth Rogan himself. Here is Seth Rogan playing himself in this apocalyptic scenario, and you could be forgiven for thinking he was playing any one of his other characters from his film career. He could have been Zack, or Cal, or Ben, or any other character from a “Seth Rogan film”. Which leads me to wonder can Seth Rogan play only one type of character, or can he not play any type of character and can only be himself? Which option is worse? Don’t get me wrong, I really like Seth Rogan, it is just that This is the End made me realise that perhaps I like him more as a comedian, given it seems that his acting ability doesn’t stretch very far. But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe Seth fits in just like someone like Tom Cruise does. He has a type of character he excels at, and if that is the kind of character the movie needs then he is perfect for it. In the end (see what I did there?) I suppose it doesn’t matter, as long as I get some laughs.
Speaking of laughs; as I have previously stated, the movie is quite hilarious. A lot of the humour comes from the surreal nature of the fact that the actors are not playing characters but themselves, and the clashing of personalities and opinions on their real life exploits are essentially the crux of the jokes. There was a lot of gross out humour as well, and for the most part it was quite funny also. However, they did sometimes decide to stay with the jokes for a lot longer than they should have, dragging them out to the point of frustration. All of that aside though, the only thing that really bugged me about the film was when the humour got in the way. I know, the humour getting in the way in a comedy, go figure! I’ll elaborate, I was irritated when the need to make something funny got in the way of the moments in the film that were genuinely terrifying. It was easy to forget sometimes that while all these crazy personalities have been making jokes left and right, that the Rapture has begun outside! There are sections of the film revolving around the mystery of what may be lurking outside in the smoke, and one instance involving a demonic possession, that were nerve racking and amazingly intense. But then the film would ruin it by making a creature have a gigantic erection; or in the demonic possession instance, have the victim stop shouting horrifying Latin and biblical doomsday text and revert to silly name calling. Now while it was amusing, while it was absurd, I was honestly having more fun when the bad guys were scary, not funny. Perhaps that’s just me, but I like a comedy-horror film to still maintain a level of genuine fear of the villainous monsters in the movie. Shaun of the Dead managed it, so there is no excuse!
This is the End is a good watch. If I had to say it in a sentence, that would be it. It’s really funny, often quite clever, and with some intensely scary moments. It also strikes an interesting self exploration for all the actors, with them wondering why they haven’t been taken up to heaven with the others and are left on Earth. Hollywood actors acknowledging their own stupid egos always makes for some great viewing. Plus, it’s always good to see Seth Rogan doing what Seth Rogan does. What can I say, he’s a funny guy! You should check it out.
See you next time!