At the Movies with Alan Gekko: This is the End “2013”

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: This is the End “2013”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Apocalyptic Comedy/Stars: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, David Krumholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Martin Starr, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, Evan Goldberg, Jason Segel, Brian Huskey, Ricky Mabe, Jason Trost, Carol Sutton; Voice of: Jason Stone/Runtime: 107 Minutes

I think it is safe to say that as a dynamic writing duo, the combined talents of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is one partnership that has more or less been fairly consistently successful both critically as well as commercially ever since their breakout more or less in 2007 with the now iconic comedy Superbad that, even after 15-16 odd years, still holds up phenomenally well. With that in mind though, it should be said that there was a time where it looked dire for this duo. That would be the years 2011 and 2012 since the two films that they wrote during that time, an adaptation of iconic radio character The Green Hornet and the sci-fi comedy The Watch, didn’t quite measure up to the level that movie goers had come to hope for from this team. Undeterred however, we see that the two quickly put their heads together and decided on a way to bounce back from these misfires. A way that involved both men writing as well as helming a feature length take on a short film that they penned about Rogen and fellow thespian Jay Baruchel (yes that would be the guy who played the lead character in the How to Train Your Dragon movies) portraying themselves and having to survive the end of the world together only for the feature length adaptation getting a significantly larger cast of past collaborators/friends to come and play themselves as well including Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Danny McBride to name but a few examples. Suffice it to say that while this could have been seen, and rightfully so, as a creative gamble it pleases me to tell you that it was a gamble that was most assuredly worth taking as this slice of cinema (now going by the title of This is the End) is one that is downright hysterical. Yes the film may have a few hiccups including with its script, but when the comedy lands on target this much and the performances being given by the truly game cast of players assembled prove to be as energetic and lively as they are here who am I to argue with the end result? Thus This is the End might not be a comedy masterpiece, but darn it all if it doesn’t manage to be a genuine blast from start to finish.

The plot is as follows: Taking place in a hyper-exaggerated version of reality, This is the End gets underway as we witness as an actor by the name of Jay Baruchel is able to make his way to the iconic locale of Los Angeles in order to visit and spend some quality time with a long-time friend, and fellow thespian, by the name of Seth Rogen. A guy incidentally who, within minutes of Jay’s arrival, has invited him to a big house party being held that night by none other than James Franco. Unfortunately, this proves to be a bit problematic since, as we quickly learn, Jay has never been quite comfortable with the whole celebrity scene in L.A. that his friend has become a fairly prominent fixture of. As a result, we see that while Seth is off fairly enjoying himself, Jay is left to more or less to both sulk as well as not entirely gel with the new group of chums that his buddy has managed to obtain in his life. Yet, whilst out on a seemingly ordinary cigarette run to take Jay’s mind off the party, we see that it isn’t long before calamity on a grand scale begins to occur from holes of fire opening in the ground to cars exploding all over and even people being sucked up into the sky. Panicking, we see that our dynamic duo quickly makes their way back to the house where several party goers are swiftly dispatched in a variety of gruesome ways. Thus, as the city of Los Angeles is being obliterated and there is no technological device service available to help provide them with even a singular clue whatsoever as to what is going down, we see that our duo decides to hole up at James’ place until they can be rescued. Yet lest you thought it would just be them there you would be wrong. Indeed, the duo must share their limited resources with at least a trinity of fellow survivors in the forms of an affable yet off Jonah Hill, a lively Craig Robinson, and a darn-near psychotic Danny McBride who Franco hates with a passion and vice versa. Thus as things go from bad to worse, can our group band together, figure out what is going on, and if there is a chance of rescue or will their own demons, both internal and external, get the better of them? That I will leave for you to discover for yourself dear reader…….

Now right off the bat it should be noted that to quite an extent, this slice of cinema really is a group of comedic skits that are then threaded together utilizing the arrival of the apocalypse as their background. Despite that though, there is a set start, mid-way point, and wrap-up to the overarching narrative of the on shaky ground friendship between our two main characters as well as to the saga of life on planet Earth and to the seemingly never-ending party being had by this group of people. At any rate, we see that when a slice of cinema chooses to utilize the significantly high degree of improv that this one is, the film in question also gambles with possibly becoming more than a bit uneven in its approach. Thankfully, I can safely say that is most certainly not the case as this slice of cinema’s helming/penning duo of Seth Rogen (who also stars in this) and Evan Goldberg respectively are able to provide their quite hefty roster of players more than enough in the way of space to conjure up absolutely delightful comedy whilst also keeping them on the right path and also support the track that this slice of cinema is following. That and also brilliantly synching up some absolutely phenomenal effects work especially given the kind of movie that this is. With that in mind though, perhaps one of the more intriguing components that this slice of cinema is playing with is how sweet it is from a bromance perspective. Indeed, besides the overarching ethical component to the narrative, it is the bromance component that not only is quite effective, but also that helps to make the majority of the characters in this likable to varying degrees. This is crucial because the celebrity way of life is one that those who partake in it are often viewed as petulant, childish, and quite unlikable, but by giving us a main character who doesn’t really want anything to do with that concept it helps give the audience a character from whom they can see this film through the eyes of. That and let’s be honest: there is quite the perverse delight to be found in seeing a group of celebrities get scared out of their minds, get hurt, and actually even die during the Apocalypse just like “ordinary people” would. Sure, there are some moments that don’t land like they ought to whilst the film itself every now and then also gives off the vibe that it is taking a bit longer than it should to get to the point on certain things to say nothing of the fact that the story is a bit on the simple side. At the end of the day, what helps this slice of cinema get past those particular hurdles is the fact that this might not be “intellectual humor 101”, but darn it all if it’s genuinely hilarious all the same. Finally, I guess I should point out that what is causing the apocalypse to occur in this film might be a bit on the divisive side. On top of that, there is a moral to this story, but the only quibble I have is that it seems to be saying don’t be entitled now so you can later be quite entitled for quite a while. Ultimately, though this just proves to be a minor flaw in the grand scheme of things and the work done behind the camera is quite well done all things considered.

I would also like to take this time to point out that the work done in front of the camera by this slice of cinema’s immensely talented cast of players is definitely a huge positive working in the movie’s favor. I mean not only are each and every one of them aware of the kind of movie that they are working on, but they all also manage to bring their collective A-game and then some to this cinematic effort. With that in mind though, there are a few performances in mind that I think are worthy of further attention than the majority of the others. For example, I must say that I really did dig the work being done by both Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen here. Indeed not only did their real-life friendship with each other shine through here, but they both also made the most of the ridiculous concept and then some whilst also managing to sneak in a welcome bit of heart into the proceedings as well. The latter could also readily be applied to the wonderful work done here by Craig Robinson. Indeed I have for quite some time felt that Mr. Robinson is an immensely funny guy who whenever he shows up or participates in something be it this, the American take on The Office, 2016’s Sausage Party, or even 2022’s The Bad Guys you know you are in for a treat and that is definitely the case here. I also really dug the work here done by Jonah Hill who does a wonderful job at playing up not only a seemingly genuine affability, but also a little bit of a creep factor that comes to play in this story in a way that I can’t lie to you dear reader is funny due to how the story chooses to play it, but in any other movie would be downright horrifying. Out of everyone in the movie though (including a shockingly brilliant turn by Emma Watson), the cast MVP would have to be none other than Danny McBride who decides to give movie goers no more and no less than a complete 180 (I’m hoping) with his portrayal of an exaggerated form of himself. As a result, we get a take on Danny McBride that may start out as this by and large condescending jerk that none of the others want to be around, but who winds up becoming a, for all intents and purposes borderline sociopathic lunatic that is still somehow capable of succeeding in contributing some of the biggest laughs that you will get whilst watching this slice of cinema. Suffice it to say that when you also factor in wonderful, albeit smaller, roles for such performers as the always delightful Jason Segel, a wonderfully unhinged Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Rhianna to name but a few, I think it can safely be said that the end result is no more and no less than comedy gold in every sense of the word from this group of talented individuals.

All in all is This is the End a perfect slice of cinema? Nope, nada, not even close. At the same time though, is this a bonafide terrible movie that one such as yourself should avoid at any and all cost? Honestly if you are at least 16 and up I wouldn’t say that either. Instead, I will say that it all depends on what exactly you are wanting from a slice of cinema like this. Thus, if you are looking for a comedy that has more than a fair bit of juvenile humor to appease that immature side of your brain that you know exists, but you desperately try to keep hidden because you’re worried about people judging you for it then I think you will find a fair bit to enjoy here. On the other hand, if you are looking for a well-acted in front of the camera and fairly well-made behind the camera entry in the comedy genre of movie magic….you know something dear reader I think you will also find a fair bit to enjoy here also. Indeed it might not be a perfect slice of cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but the work done behind the camera is more than capable and the work being done in front of the camera by the truly game cast will easily have you laughing about the end of the world until it hurts and you find that all you really want to do is go back to the menu and watch it again from the beginning. Thus it might have its issues here and there, but definitely check out This is the End with your own dysfunctional group of friends and hopefully at a house party hosted by that one friend that could be considered “out there”. Sure, you could do a whole lot better, but you also could do a whole lot worse as well. Make of that dear reader what thou will and Happy New Year’s Eve 2022! On a scale of 1-5 I give This is the End a solid 4 out of 5.