Remember the first time one of your best buddies from high school came to visit you at college? You were so eager to show them a good time and introduce them to your new social circle. But maybe you acted a little different than usual, being that you were around two different groups of friends and you wanted to appeal to both of them without neglecting one or the other.
Well, that’s kind of the premise behind This is the End… except that the apocalypse also happens to be occurring.
This is the End is a movie about the insecure relationships guy friends have with each other. And although it adds a lot of gore and special effects, the apocalypse is really just a vehicle to tell this story. Jay Baruchel (playing himself) comes to L.A. for the weekend to visit his childhood friend Seth Rogen (also playing himself).
Jay hopes to bridge the gap that has been growing between him and Seth ever since Seth became a movie star and started hanging out with his Hollywood friends, whom Jay loathes.
After a fair amount of male bonding and pot smoking between the two, Seth brings Jay, against his wishes, to James Franco’s house party where he meets Seth’s Hollywood crew comprised of Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and later, Danny McBride (or basically, the cast of any movie Judd Apatow has ever directed or produced).
There are also some terrific cameos by Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Paul Rudd, Rihanna, Jason Segel, Emma Watson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Channing Tatum, and best of all, Michael Cera.
If you couldn’t guess by now, every character in this movie is playing themselves, which is funny and sort of brilliant at once. It makes their performances more authentic and makes it easier to relate to them, which is important when all hell breaks loose.
Inevitably, hell literally breaks loose, and Seth, Jay, James, Craig, Jonah, and Danny are left to fend for themselves inside Franco’s home as the world burns and demons walk the earth (interestingly, the righteous are raptured to heaven, but all the Hollywood celebrities are left to suffer). The foul-mouthed, drug infused, violent, sometimes even scary chaos that ensues is nothing short of a choke-on-your-popcorn-because-your-laughing-so-hard good time.
Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, in this desperate situation, lines are quickly drawn and characters turn on each other. Jay’s resentment of Seth’s new life comes to light, and is only intensified by the insecurities of the other characters. However, what is most enjoyable is that what you’re watching doesn’t feel like something produced for the silver screen.
Between all the immature jokes and covert homoeroticism, you feel like you are truly spending two hours hanging out with Seth and his friends on any average day; hell I felt like I was hanging out with my friends.
That is what is so great about this group of stoner buddies turned movie stars. All their movies, from Pineapple Express (which gets a Seinfeld-esque sequel in the film), to Knocked Up, to Funny Guys, deal with characters we’ve met before.
From James Franco being that pretentious douche, to Danny McBride being the guy everybody “pretends” to like, you feel that these famous friends have a very similar dynamic to you and your friends. And yes, the jokes are great too.
When the credits rolled I noticed that it said, “Based on the short film: ‘The Apocalypse’, by Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel,” and that made the film all the more better. Imagine making a short film with your best friend and then later having it become a major motion picture with a star studded cast with you and your best friend as the main characters.
That epitomizes This is the End. Passion project is one way to put it and making a movie with your boys is another.
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