This Is The End is a strong candidate for the year’s best comedy, a film so thoroughly enjoyable that it also belongs among the top overall offerings, regardless of genre. So what if the apocalyptic shenanigans are insanely crude and simply an excuse for famous friends to mercilessly dog one another? When the Apatow kids and a few key associates are having such a good, well-crafted time, the fun is evident onscreen and proves contagious for those experiencing the glee secondhand.
Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, whose greenness behind the camera barely shows, This Is The End brilliantly meshes of the talents of Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson. Holed up at Franco’s Los Angeles home while the Book of Revelation’s prophecies play out, these versions of themselves exchange barbs with the freewheeling sense of improv, but deliver them so professionally that it simultaneously feels tightly scripted.
Taking jabs at their respective careers and incorporating some of the public’s general criticisms of flops like Your Highness, the dream team then rectify the wrongs with the brand of focused humor that’s been missing from their recent films. In turn, they craft precisely the grand comedy of which they’ve long seemed capable, and if it took a megaton bomb of self-parody to make it happen, so be it.
While dynamics like Franco’s eerie fondness for Rogen and the simmering beef between Franco and an uninvited McBride are supremely entertaining, the real star is Baruchel, the “last tie to Seth’s crazy Canadian past,” as one of the collective puts it. The lone outsider, Baruchel’s misgivings with the L.A. scene give the story welcome tension and adds amusement to interactions with people he doesn’t know (Franco) or straight up doesn’t like (Hill).
Augmenting the core group are a wealth of zany cameos, namely a ferocious Emma Watson and a blow-snorting, wonderfully out of control Michael Cera. Playing an unpredictable jerk, he also manages a memorable reunion with Superbad brethren Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in one riotous coke-filled scene. Other name brands stop by for far too short, but with the exception of Martin Starr (who merely runs by as part of a stampede), each make their mark in limited screen time.
Along with impressive special effects, This Is The End features several effective jumps, each of which blast out of the unassuming banter with expert horror impact. And though demon anatomy and a passionate argument over spunk factor in, the film’s underlying message concerns the meaning of friendship and the power of doing genuine good deeds for others. When these positive statements shine next to the humor without feeling forced, the film is firmly at its best, arms raised triumphantly atop Mount Bromance. For viewers fond of the above performers and who have missed them at their gut-busting best, it’s about as close to comedic nirvana as one can get.
Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence.
This Is The End is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.