Review: This Is The End


Director:Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

Cast:Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson

Running Time:107.00


This is the End is a movie divided against itself. For every aspect I could praise, there's another I'd have to knock it down for. As you may have feared, this is a self-indulgent comedy, a $25 million vacation for the cast to hang out and drink and smoke under the guise of making a film. What separates it from Adam Sandler's last few films, which are also vacations masquerading as movies, is that this one's actually funny.

The plot, or more accurately, the set-up: Jay Baruchel flies in for the weekend to hang out with Seth Rogen. After getting dragged to a party at James Franco's house, the apocalypse starts outside, trapping the six guys inside. 

But the jokes ebb and flow. The biggest source of the film's inconsistency lies with its superfluous cast members. Jonah Hill essentially takes the straight man role. Unfortunately, Jay Baruchel already has that role. Craig Robinson is all but useless and seems to be around mostly for his girlish scream. James Franco absolutely nails his role, but how hard could that be since he's always playing the character "James Franco" and we may never know who the real guy is. 

Another problem is that getting all these comedic minds together means they probably thought everything they did was hilarious. At 107 minutes, there's plenty of trimming that could have been done. (Take note, comedy filmmakers: There's no shame in making a hilarious film that runs under an hour-and-a-half. That would mean all your best material is left onscreen without padding.)

Yet I laughed harder in this movie than I have all year. When Danny McBride shows up, he's a rampaging bull let loose. As he has in every film he's ever been in, he completely steals the show. But he's not the only one. A brief cameo from Michael Cera might instantly turn his fanbase against him, but I suppose that's the point. Another cameo from a real A-lister happens toward the end. It was no less degrading but even funnier.

I also have to give the movie props for committing to its plot mechanics, specifically that it's no typical end-of-the-world scene going on outside, but it's the scenario described in The Book of Revelation. It does take a little bit of guts for a mainstream comedy to acknowledge God's existence and at least part of the Bible as true. It also sticks with redemption"”with a heavenly reward, no less"”as its overriding theme.

But that's not the aspect of the story that needed more conviction. What This is the End tries and fails to do is tell a story about a male friendship on the verge of unraveling. It's quite literally Seth and Jay's story, since they adapted their own short film, but there's not enough substance there to give it the heart the film is aiming for. It's too focused on another body part.

That makes This is the End a frustrating paradox: The movie needs more plot but works better when the guys are just goofing off. Still, as a pure joke machine, it works. But it will certainly work better at home when you can gather your buddies to drink and smoke and laugh together.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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