At the corner of Hollywood and meta, there exists a world where those who make movies make fun of themselves and it has never been so brilliantly skewered as it is in This Is the End. Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill lead a cast of superstars “playing” themselves who grapple with the rise of Satan and the reverberating Rapture.
The film begins with Rogen at LAX, and immediately you get the idea he’s playing himself. People walk by and say, “Hey, Seth Rogen… give us the laugh.” He reluctantly obliges, and we have our first laugh of a hilarity-filled fest. Rogen is picking up his fellow Canadian and good friend Jay Baruchel for a weekend of catching up and partying -- yet they can never predict where this reunion will end.
It is established that Baruchel is not the biggest fan of Los Angeles, and that the only reason he’s in town is to spend some quality time with his old friend. After a few hours of getting high, Rogen announces that there’s a party at Franco’s house tonight where he is showing off his new home that he designed to a few hundred select friends. Baruchel reluctantly agrees, even if he is not too thrilled about seeing Rogen’s Hollywood friends, especially Hill.
The This Is the End trailer illustrates just how many stars make appearances in the film, and you won’t get any spoilers here in terms of surprise cameos. But, let’s just say that Danny McBride and Craig Robinson are mainstays in the battle against the oncoming hell while Aziz Ansari and a few others appear onscreen for a moment of hilarity and then disappear.
And yes, that Emma Watson This Is the End clip shows that the Harry Potter star is more than game to make fun of her persona. But, how she gets to that point after the night she had… is utterly brilliant.
See, the Franco party rages and in the middle of it all, Baruchel decides he needs a break from the “fakeness” of the scene and begs Rogen to go with him to a nearby convenience store. Then… it begins. What some believe is an earthquake, Baruchel knows is more. He has seen people getting sucked into blue light, all the way to heaven. Baruchel believes this is the End of Days, although Rogen is not so sure.
When they go through a maze of Hollywood hell back to Franco’s house, they enter and discover everyone is blissfully going about their way -- completely unaware of the mayhem going on outside. Then, hell comes home and Franco’s party of hundreds becomes only our main stars, fighting for survival.
Rogen and screenwriter Evan Goldberg have crafted a wickedly smart farce that should stand the test of time and when we look back on some of the great tongue-in-cheek works in Hollywood history, our This Is the End review forecasts that if this film is not near the top of the list, may fire and brimstone fall on the planet!
This Is the End is irreverent, subversive and still possesses enough silly that audiences will laugh out loud throughout. Franco and McBride even turn a fight over masturbation into a full-fledged ten-minute manic laughter-inducing folly. And the Baruchel-Rogen continuing discussion about how Hollywood the later has gotten truly grounds the film and gives it its heart.
Franco and Hill, meanwhile, portray versions of themselves that play at their public personas, while simultaneously adding to the reasons why audiences adore them. And Robinson is not to be left out. He has a screen presence that is only beginning to take shape, after his turns in Peeples and Rapture-Palooza (yes, another end of the world comedy that works!).
What also surprises us about This Is the End is how much faith there is to it. There are lessons to be learned about how to live our lives and treat each other that you would not think would be present in such a cheeky comedy that is lambasting Hollywood and its sinful excesses.
At the end of the day, This Is the End is one journey into hell that is equally hilarious, heartwarming and not to be missed.