REVIEW: This Is The End

13 06 2013

Now that I know the kind of deep analyses I can write on films, I’ve grown cautious of over-intellectualizing.  It’s like learning to reign in a superpower; just because you can use it doesn’t mean that you always should.  And, often times, I feel like many film reviewers and critics pull meanings out of films that might not even be there.

This Is The End” poses quite a conundrum for me.  I’m weary to read into it too much, but I think the apocalyptic comedy could be subversively smart.  Or it’s just another culturally-savvy product of the Apatow gang (although Judd himself had no part of this film).  Whichever it is, however, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s feature-length directorial debut is an outlandishly good time that packs some killer laughs.

I go back and forth on whether Rogen and pals are brilliant minds … or just stoned out of those same minds.  The fact that stars like Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill are playing themselves certainly seems to indicate a certain level of self-reflexivity.  After all, no one would mistake “This Is The End” for a documentary as everyone seems to be playing an exaggerated version of themselves: Rogen the jovial teddy bear, Franco the off-kilter artiste, and Hill the slightly fruity sass-pot.

But then again, Rogen and Goldberg could easily have just been thinking of a way to make the ultimate end of the world comedy (lest we forget, there has already been the morose “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World“).  When it came time for their silver bullet, perhaps the idea popped into their head that rather than characters, the film should feature real celebrities.  Indeed, there are times that the real comedians feel a little gimmicky.  I’m not going to complain, however, so long as I get to hear Rogen and Franco weigh the relative merits of “Pineapple Express” and “Your Highness.”

This is the End

But what if there is a deeper level hidden beneath conversations between Franco and Danny McBride about ejaculation locations?  What if songs by Craig Robinson feat. Rihanna called “Take Yo Panties Off!” (a title he wears on his T-shirt the entire film) are more than just a cheap laugh?  What if a coke-snorting fiend by the name of Michael Cera is more than just a favor to save the struggling actor’s career?

For precisely these conundrums of judgement, I’m intrigued by “This Is The End,” and I intend to see it again to come to some inner peace with these questions.  To be honest, I was too busy howling at the film’s humor to really delve deep into its commentary.  The film seems to at least be making rudimentary grasps at satirizing Hollywood fame and star worship.  If it’s there, it might not be fully formed or entirely thought-through.

Sometimes a film doesn’t need to blast its targets obviously to communicate a message about them, however.  Jean Renoir’s much-lauded 1939 classic “The Rules of the Game” excoriates the French upper class’ aiding the advent of World War II not by calling them out; he just showed them looking in the opposite direction.  A direct comparison between a stoner comedy and the third greatest film ever (per Sight & Sound) is not what I’m aiming for here, though.

Yet Rogen, Hill, Franco, McBride, Robinson, and outsider Jay Baruchel (remember him from the instantly forgettable “She’s Out of My League?” – don’t worry, thankfully, Rogen and Goldberg realize you don’t) have nothing in common with John Cusack in “2012” or Viggo Mortensen in “The Road.”  They’re sitting around in Franco’s house just trying to survive.  There’s also a certain narcissism present in having actors be the last people on earth, almost as if God Himself is as invested in their survival as their publicist.

Rogen and company seem to be at least slightly self-conscious about this aspect of the film as they toy around with theology and salvation in a conversation about the relative lack of societal utility they as actors fill.  Whether it’s just a stupid and unformed idea they thought they had to throw into a film about the End of Days or a serious reflection escapes me at first glance.  And if it’s not satire or social commentary, it could also be a very well-observed parody of the miniature moral universes constructed in the types of horror movies they love so much.

Heck, even if it turns out to be just one big inside joke rolled up into a mutually enjoyable joint by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, I certainly didn’t mind getting high on “This Is The End.”  There could be worse things (consult “Seeking a Friend” and find out if you must).  B+3stars



2 responses

14 06 2013

Great review man. I too look at flicks a little bit more into films, more than I think I should, but this is one of those flicks I need to see again. Not just for the reasons you state, but also because I was too busy howling half of the times that I missed some of the lines or jokes people dropped.

20 06 2013
This Is The End Review: Solid Goldberg | Rorschach Reviews

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