Sunday, June 30, 2013

Movie Review: "This is the End"

Where do you stand on stupid-funny movies?

You know what I'm talking about—those movies which, depending upon the mood you're in, either make you laugh so uproariously you can't breathe, or leave you scratching your head, wondering why everyone around you is laughing. The kind of movies you either furiously love or consider walking out of. I'm sure you've had experiences on both ends of that spectrum.

Well, This is the End is definitely one of those movies. At times laugh-out-loud hysterical, at times puerile, silly, obscene, and downright disturbing, this is a movie you need to be in the right frame of mind to see. But it's definitely funny as hell in many instances, even while it's improbable, juvenile, and a little gross.

All the actors in this movie play themselves, so there's no needing to keep characters' names straight. Jay Baruchel comes to visit old friend Seth Rogen in Los Angeles, despite his professed dislike for the city and the Hollywood circuit. The two eat burgers, smoke a lot of weed, and play lots of video games, before Seth convinces a reluctant Jay to accompany him to a party at James Franco's house. The party is exactly as you might imagine a party at James Franco's house would be, full of a motley crew of celebrities, drugs, and pretentious conversation. Everyone is there—Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and one of the film's favorite punchlines, Michael Cera.

While on a run for some cigarettes, Jay and Seth come face to face with what appears to be the start of the rapture—destruction is everywhere, while others are being sucked up into the sky on beams of light. When they race back to Franco's house, the ground starts opening up and all of the celebrities are killed—except Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Hill, Robinson, and party crasher Danny McBride. The six hole themselves up in Franco's house, a fortress from the madness, with a small amount of food and drugs. And hijinks ensue.

This is the End plays on the quirky behaviors and traits of the actors—Rogen's laugh and his tendency to do one type of role all the time, Franco's ambiguous sexuality, Hill's conceit over being nominated for an Oscar—and mines them for laughs, and does so with the dynamics between the characters as well. You don't know where the movie ends and reality begins, not that it really matters.

After a while, as the movie slips into increasingly improbable and ridiculous (but still funny) territory, it becomes more about five guys co-existing in a house while the world is ending. It's a meditation on the cult of celebrity and whether these people we see in the movies and on television are like we imagine they'd be, or if they're different. And if they are the same, are they worth saving?

For me, this was a perfect summer comedy. I didn't have to think, I laughed so hard at times my sides hurt, and I wondered how they'd tie the whole thing up in the end. While I wouldn't want to be stuck in a house with these guys at the end of the world, I didn't mind—and actually enjoyed—spending nearly two hours with them. And you can't ask for much more, especially if you pay matinee prices.

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