Wednesday, June 12, 2013
“This is the End” – A message from the emergency broadcast system.
Warning number two: If you believe in the rapture, Armageddon (as in the Book of Revelations), and you take your religion very seriously, you probably won’t find this film very amusing. Folks who can’t see the humor in things like that should do everyone a favor and stay away from the theater so they don’t bring everyone else down.
Warning number three: This movie is stupid. Funny…but stupid. If you like your humor more sophisticated than what a fourteen year-old boy, a drunk, or a person with well-used bong collection laughs at, this movie will bore you to sleep. These are the same guys that brought you Pineapple Express; you should not be expecting something clever, subtle, or smart.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. This is the End is a movie that uses the same low-brow humor to poke a little fun at Hollywood and religion that was used to poke a little fun at bridesmaids, pregnant women, and neighborhood watches. The crew that has come to be referred to as the “frat pack” (I did not make that up) – Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and anyone else commonly connected with Judd Apatow – has banded together again, this time to make fun of themselves by playing themselves in a comedy about the end of the world.
I’ve joked before that Seth Rogen writes his screenplays in crayon and this movie has done nothing to change that opinion. The plot is about as simplistic as it could get – Jay visits Seth in Los Angeles to try to rekindle their dying friendship. After they smoke a lot of weed, Seth convinces Jay to go with him to James Franco’s house for a party, even though Jay does not like James or most of Hollywood for that matter. After a few hours, they step out to a convenience store and while there, an earthquake hits, followed by a bunch of people being sucked into the sky by blue lights. They rush back to James’ house to warn everyone and when another earthquake hits, everyone rushes outside to discover fire and sinkholes and destruction. After a bunch of famous people perish, Jay, Seth, James, Jonah, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride find themselves trapped in James’ house trying to figure out what is going on and how they are going to survive. After what felt like hours of ridicule (the movie is a verrrry long 106 minutes) directed at Jay, they finally believe Jay’s assertion that the rapture occurred and Armageddon is upon them. Of course, they don’t fully believe him until demons start showing up and Jonah becomes possessed by a demon after it rapes him (did I really just type those words?!).
The movie reminded me somewhat of Dogma – Kevin Smith’s fantastic parody of Christianity – but without the intelligence. Where Dogma was very well-thought out and included many clever and subtle jabs at its target and very smart comedy, This is the End is a bull in a china shop that whips its dick out whenever a laugh is required. From Satan’s actual penis, to three guys trying to decide if they should sleep penis to penis or ass to ass or penis to ass, to a demon’s penis, to two guys threatening to jerk off harder and further than each other, to one guy continually grabbing another guy’s junk, to the group discussing how best not to rape Emma Watson, this movie is one sex scene away from being gay porn.
That’s not to say that some of it isn’t funny. Maybe it was a side effect of being surrounded by other people laughing, but I was also laughing at parts of the movie, though not necessarily anything from the previous paragraph. The cast provides some laughs through some of the banter and ridicule they have become known for, as well as some sight gags that will make you giggle, including some novelty deaths and an argument over a Milky Way. Michael Cera is perhaps the funniest person in the film; playing himself as the polar opposite of what we expect him to be (sexual deviant/coke head vs. shy guy in the corner). Unfortunately, Rogen and company fail in their writing by not exploring why they and other famouns people aren’t taken to heaven during the rapture.
As a group, actors are no different than any other group of people; they just have a lot more money. Rogen and Evan Goldberg (the other writer) simply expect us to assume that all actors have committed hell-worthy sins because they are rich actors. They don’t get to go to heaven because they smoked weed or didn’t stay with their friend when they were in town or their name is Rihanna. I might not wonder why someone like Charlie Sheen is kept out of heaven, but what did Emma Watson do to earn God’s ire? Is starring in Harry Potter one of the seven deadly sins? Does being a bad actor make Franco unworthy of a halo? Does God hate the way Seth Rogen laughs? The comedic potential there is enormous and the two “writers” decide to leave all that on the table in favor of cock. And, how much funnier would it have been had some of the “normal folk” been trapped in the house with them and start quizzing them on their pasts? Either these guys forgot they were making a fictional film or they were terrified of how other actors might have reacted to fake stories about them.
Overall, the film feels like a cross between a Kevin Smith film and a Simon Pegg comedy (incidentally, Pegg has a movie coming out called The World’s End that is also an end-of-the-world comedy), but without Smith’s cleverness and Pegg’s charm. It’s simply a crass movie with no depth, but funny enough to keep you from walking out of the theater in disgust. Well, maybe just from walking out of the theater.
Rating: Ask for four dollars back. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.