Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have been a sneaky team behind the scenes for some time now having helped write Superbad, Pineapple Express and Goon (just Goldberg on this one), but This Is the End is the first time they have taken full creative control by directing as well. They call in all of their friends for duty here and they cleverly write all of them as heightened & meta versions of themselves. The core group is Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, but a plethora of familiar faces pop up throughout the film.
The film is a feature length adaptation of a short, Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, and the concept expands out surprisingly well. The film has a moderate budget, confining the action to the inside of James Franco’s fortress of a house after the apocalypse begins, and while that seems like it would be limiting to the film’s scope and ability to keep things fresh, Rogen and Goldberg do a great job of constantly mixing things up. Having such a hilarious and diverse cast helps quite a lot, but the script and pacing keep everything moving along with barely a dull moment in the mix. The film only ever slows down to build the relationship/conflict of its core couple, Jay and Seth, and while it gets the job done I wish the drama felt a bit less derivative. They use the circumstances of the apocalypse to cover up the conventional falling out though and this is barely anything worth worrying about.
It’s watching this group of actors bounce off each other as they are run through the gauntlet of apocalyptic situations is what makes the movie worthwhile and they throw everything at these guys. Everything sticks too, as they find a fresh and funny spin on many of these horror tropes. In fact, the film is a fairly effective thriller at times with some excellent creature design as the film wisely moves the action outside the house for the final act. The action beats and creatures are so impressive that I wish I could have seen what these guys did with a bigger budget; they might have been able to transcend into being a straight up epic horror/comedy instead of a comedy with a couple sprinkles of terror. Rogen and Goldberg nail the moments they can afford though and I am sure you will be shocked at the scope of some of the images at the end of this film.
The film is well balanced among the actors, giving everyone an equal share of the laughs, and the cast work wonderfully off one another. Nobody steals the show from anyone in the core cast, but Michael Cera owns the opening twenty minutes of the film as he runs amok around the party. Speaking of the party, I want to see an entire extended prequel film on the Blu-ray of everything that was going on in that house. The scene is full of hilarious people and barely any of them get a whole lot to do. Cera is great, but there has to be some bits of comedy worth seeing on the cutting room floor.
This Is the End is one of the best comedies of the year and features a lot of funny people being very funny. I don’t want to get into specifics as there are plenty of surprises throughout and I suggest you go into the film as cold as possible. Besides being a fun comedy, Rogen and Goldberg show off some solid directing chops as they blend in other genres effectively and never let their film drag. This Is the End is as fun a time as you are going to have at the theater this summer, don’t miss out on it.
This Is the End is a B+