The dual-review film criticism site: first a spoiler-free review, then an in-depth Alternate Take.
This Is the End

Reviewed by Jim Holden.

Director Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Length 106 mins
Certificate 15 / R
Rating ******----
Filmmaking: 2  Personal enjoyment: 4

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A plot that seemingly screams "a Judd Apatow production" (although, in fact, it isn’t) but taken to the nth degree, This Is the End sees actors Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, two old friends who are drifting apart, go to James Franco’s house for an epic, celebrity filled party. During a quick trip to the shops for cigarettes a huge earthquake occurs and panic ensues, and Jay witnesses beams of light taking people up into the skies; he assume the apocalypse has happened. Back at the house a giant wormhole opens up, causing havoc. Along with fellow actors Jonah Hill, Craig Robertson, and belatedly, Danny McBride, Rogen, Baruchel and Franco are holed up in the latter’s house, and wait to see what will happen. At one point Emma Watson appears to rob them, and then, one by one, in horror/comedy movie fashion, they start to crack.

The plot, then, for This Is the End is fairly straightforward, but obviously we are not just here for plot, but for the actors, the comedy and the way “the end” will be portrayed. Based on a short film, Jay and Seth verses the Apocalypse (2007) that stars Rogen and Baruchel as themselves, simply waiting for the word to end, This Is the End is almost one long in-joke. And some cynics and critics may argue that Seth Rogen and co. often play versions of themselves, so what’s new? This is especially apparent this time, as the film is also co-directed by Rogen, alongside long-time writing partner Evan Goldberg.

Interestingly, the versions of themselves the actors play are all skewed, and their actions, therefore, are very unpredictable. Danny McBride plays himself as a loud, rude oaf who wasn’t even invited to the party, and steals several scenes before stating to grate, but it is Baruchel and Hill ("Jonah Hill from Moneyball," as he says to God in a prayer) that are the most interesting characters to watch. Baruchel, a layered, underused comedic actor, really gets a chance to shine here, being the dubious conscience of the film. Indeed, as the least recognisable as a star - something played on well from the get-go (for example, he doesn’t live in Hollywood) - it is great to see him positioned front and centre.

The fact that the whole project only barely strays into the ridiculously self indulgent is testament to the film being witty, fun, unexpected and fast paced; it is an organised shambles of a film, and all the better for it. Audiences are familiar with these characters and actors, and watching them work - with the added level of them playing “themselves” - as well as spotting the celebrity cameos (Michael Cera in particular is priceless) makes the film a hilarious joy. Although puerile, silly and overlong This Is the End somehow, thankfully, works. Cult status, in the form of late night student appreciation, surely beckons.

Alternate Take to follow soon...

This review was published on July 08, 2013.