It’s a big year for the end of the world, with “World War Z” and “This Is The End” and the ongoing apocalyptic TV drama “The Walking Dead.” Later we can expect director Edgar Wright’s “The World’s End.”
It’s safe to say that few end-of-man stories besides “The World’s End” and co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s “This Is The End” play the end of existence for laughs.
And while my expectations for “The World’s End” are high, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from “This Is The End.”
Some of the early reviews indicated it was gut-bustingly funny, while others said the overdose of crude humor was just that.
I thought “This Is The End” was pretty funny, but your reaction to it will depend totally on your tolerance for penis and ejaculation jokes, as well as the modern-day Rat Pack of Rogen and other young actors that include Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride.
A big part of the joke here is that the actors play themselves, or at least versions of themselves. Baruchel comes into L.A. to visit Rogen. Baruchel doesn’t like Los Angeles or the crowd that Rogen hangs with – including most of the above-mentioned bold-faced names, plus others – and is reluctant to go to a party at Franco’s house.
They do go, however, and Baruchel reluctantly mingles with the likes of Rhianna, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Emma Watson and, most memorably, Michael Cera, playing a (presumably) warped version of himself as a bullying, sex-crazed cocaine user.
During the Franco party, something happens: A firestorm rolls over L.A. People are pulled up into the sky in shafts of blue light. The ground opens up and swallows some people whole.
Earthquakes and even a zombie apocalypse get the blame, but Baruchel comes to believe it’s the real apocalypse, as in the Biblical end time. That would explain the disappearance, into heaven, of all the good people – none of whom are at the party, by the way – and the eventual appearance of otherworldly beasts.
Much of the comedy derives from the contentious relationships between the group of “friends” who survive. They argue over the meager provisions that are left, over the sleeping arrangements and over the pecking order.
Rogen and Baruchel and their relationship are the core of the movie, but Hill – as a supernaturally nice guy who nonetheless gets on everyone’s nerves – and McBride as just an awful human being get the biggest laughs.
Some of the funniest moments come from not only the group’s reactions to the seemingly impossible happenings but also to each other.
One standout scene occurs when Watson takes refuge with the group and the hapless Baruchel initiates a discussion, unfortunately within her earshot, about making sure she’s at ease being the only woman in a house full of men. Before long, the others are accusing him of suggesting they rape her. Watson overhears and, wielding an axe, takes things into her own hands.
As trendy as the main cast and supporting actors are, there are a couple of cameos – I won’t reveal them here – that are surprising even in the context of this story.
As apocalyptic comedies go, “This Is The End” ranks pretty high. It’s quite crude but absurdly funny.