this_is_the_end_2013

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy

Directed by: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

Starring: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride

There are some telling moments in This Is The End that suggest how the idea for this film first came to fruition; watching Rogen & Co. think of ideas for Pineapple Express 2 while inebriated can’t be far from the truth as to how This Is The End was formed. Mercifully, their grand idea for the second outing of Dale & Saul gets no further than an extended trailer shot on a handheld camera. Unfortunately, This Is The End got a green light and here we are. The cast are talented & the writers witty but despite moments of brilliance, the film never works; turning what could have been one of the summer’s biggest comedies, into one of the years biggest disappointments.

It starts so well, with a party at James Franco’s mansion that Seth Rogen and visiting best friend Jay Baruchel attend, along with the cream of Hollywood’s comic talent… and Rhianna; Michael Cera is a coke addict, Jonah Hill is the nicest guy in Hollywood, Jason Segal is tired of How I Met Your Mother and Paul Rudd is late. It’s a brilliant start, showing that when you have so much talent in front of the camera the material practically writes itself.

Unfortunately, the fun is ruined by an apocalypse that kills most of the party; a both gruesome and hilarious sequence that may yet go down as one of the year’s best. From there, we’re left with Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, holed up in Franco’s mansion until help arrives. It’s here that the film plunders downhill, interspersing the odd brilliant scene with overlong sequences of seemingly endless banter.

Self-parody is notoriously difficult to get right and many of the representations here feel too lazy to be fun. Rogen essentially plays the character he always does (something jokingly pointed out to him in the opening scene), something that becomes too familiar and thusly too boring, too quickly. Meanwhile, McBride seems to be playing Kenny Powers playing Danny McBride; it’s a baffling idea that pays the film no dividends and proves that endless jokes about wanking are more tedious than you would expect. Only Hill & Baruchel come away completely unharmed, the former’s nice guy image constantly frustrating the latter and making for some enjoyable edgy interplay between the two.

Most disappointing though, is that for long stretches This Is The End just isn’t funny. Crudeness is overused, intelligence is seemingly forgotten about and film riffs are relied upon too heavily. Some one-liners will have you giggling, others will have you crying with laughter but many will have you groaning. That the film feels too long at under 2 hours proves how lengthy and unfunny various sequences are.

It’s not a total waste though, Rogen and Goldberg know how to use cameo appearances to their advantage and while some aren’t exactly surprises (Emma Watson), others are both jaw dropping & hilarious; a gimp unmasking during the films third act easily being the best joke of the film.

Both on paper and on trailer, This Is The End looked and sounded great. It does have its moments; including a great opening act, some superb cameos and Jonah Hill’s words of wisdom. However, the film fails to truly get a grip on self-parody and looses a lot of its funny in the process.

★★

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