Title: This Is the End
Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Screenwriter: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson
Screened at: NYC, 6/6/13
Opens: June 12, 2013
Not many folks would be offended by this ribald satire. Only everyone in the Bible Belt, anyone who believes in The Repture, and anyone who thinks that movies were better before “There’s Something About Mary” opened the gates for all sorts of prurience on the big screen. Most of the rest of us may not be offended, by we might not appreciate that the film evokes only sporadic attempts at humor, though the special effects are awesome even by the standards of 2013. The budget must have been through the roof.
Sending up movies as varied as “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Alien,” and anything relating to zombies and apocalyptic mayhem, “This is the End” provides the ensemble—all principal parts are taken by men—with more fun than a barrel of monkeys. The audience, however, will be divided.
The picture starts off slowly as good friends James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera and others get together at the Franco villa to drink, smoke weed, and talk dirty like it’s the last party they’ll ever attend. Turns out that it is, because “This is the End” is about the fin-de siècle, even more than goodbye 21st Century it’s the end of the world. We witness fires and earthquakes that will take a toll on most of the party-goers. We get a hint of religious parody when after a convenience store is devastated, two of its patrons rise to heaven. Jay Baruchel (all actors use their own names to signal that this may be a vanity production) informs all that indeed, the Rapture has begun, though he twice mispronounces the Book of Revelation as the Book of Revelations.
Though Revelation may say that those who accept Jesus as Lord have a chance to be saved and to rise to heaven, it’s good to see that ultimately a couple of nice Jewish guys will join the others who are beaming up.
In what looks as though writer-directors Evan Goldberg and the inimitable Seth Rogen leave much to improvisation, look for a cinematic speed that will not allow you catch your breath. If we’re not casting our eyes on a hideous demon, we are looking at a hole outside the Franco estate beginning to resemble the Grand Canyon. If we have any doubt that Hell exists, those who fall through the hole will be sizzling in seconds.
However, most of the Franco house is untouched by the disaster. The ensemble are in forced company for what might be weeks or months, with a limited supply of water and food. It’s bad enough that they get on one another’s nerves, but worse, Jonah Hill becomes possessed. Jay Baruchel, holding a spatula parallel to the ground with a pole forming with it a cross attempts the exorcism.
Supernatural movies are generally reflexively satiric however their serious intentions (“Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist” being two exceptions that make them fine stories). Here, while the implicit message is that the “Scary Movie” series is something you might watch on a 9-inch portable DVD player, “This is the End” requires the big screen. Sorry, 80-inch TV’s won’t do it.
The effects are outta sight, but the gags are almost universally unfunny.
Rated R. 107 minutes © 2013 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C-
Acting – C
Technical – A
Overall – C+