What better way to mend a friendship than to have to suffer through the apocalypse with one another. That is essentially what This Is The End did as the relationship between Seth Rogan and Jay Baruchel, who play themselves, just like every other celebrity in the film, were put through hell, literally. This Is The End is touching, gruesome, candid, and always funny.
The main reason for the film’s success is its ability to exaggerate all the tendencies of the characters, which it does hysterically. They all play a version of themselves that draws on some of their traits. Jonah Hill is super nice, but secretly a douche. Seth Rogan is selfish and arrogant. Craig Robinson seems tough, but is sort of pussy. James Franco is pretentious and hates Danny McBride and Danny McBride is a flat out asshole. That leaves us with only Jay Baruchel as the character with the most to latch onto. He is the guy that does not seem totally unreachable. He is the shy, Canadian boy who is losing his friend to the hot shots of Hollywood. All he wants is to salvage his friendship with Seth Rogan, his childhood friend. It is through the medium of the end of the world that we get to see Jay and Seth become friends again and it is glorious.
It is interesting to watch a film of celebrities play themselves during a crisis. We see through this lens that they are not that different than us. They hold grudges, they talk behind each other’s backs, they fake being nice. You know, just like an average person. This film is more of a study of human character than anything else. They are put through a test and have to try to act accordingly, which they do not. They are scared, indecisive, immature, and sometimes jizzing all over the house or sleeping under dicks. Just like your standard sleepover, except if you leave the house, you die. My favorite bit was the making of home movie “Pineapple Express 2.” This scene is a great reminder of just how funny these people are, as it made me want them to actually make the sequel. Jonah Hill did a great Woody Harrelson.
For me though, the apocalyptic landscape drags on for a bit too much. It almost drifts away from a comedy to a bad B movie. The jokes are always funny and their reactions to simple circumstances are priceless, but there is only so much story-line that can be played out inside the confines of Franco’s home. Things needed to move out of the house sooner, rather than later. But what keeps it together is the understanding that they are in it together. They are friends and become more and more selfless as the story progresses. They learn, which is important. It makes them relatable and human.
The film picks back up once the house burns down and they are out in the open. They panic even more as they are out of options. This is when we see the first occurrence of a soul being saved, which ends the stagnation of the storytelling. From that point on, the film finishes with pace and veracity, as death could happen around any corner, and does. And the scene in heaven is especially nice and light-hearted, which is a nice juxtaposition to the majority of the film, which is bleak, dark, and full of hungry and thirsty men.
Rogan, who also directs the film, and fellow writing partner Evan Goldberg give a refreshing take on the end of the world by creating characters of the celebrities we think we know and by playing with that notion, they can make even ordinary events seem funny, like having a tv come out from the floor. Also, the numerous references to other films and pop culture makes This Is The End seem current and relevant. It feels like 2013 in the film and they act as crazy and stupid as anyone else would in such a situation. A truly funny movie with a truly noble theme: friendship. Lesson learned. It probably shouldn’t have taken the end of the world for Jay and Seth to realize how great their friendship is, but I’m sure glad they made a movie about it.