So just who
is the intended audience for This Is the End? Seth Rogen fans. Also,
James Franco fans. Plus Danny McBride fans. And fans of the cast presented on
the movie’s poster. And maybe Judd Apatow, Freaks
and Geeks and Undeclared fans are
But make no
mistake. This Is the End is not intended to please those fans. That it
may is beside the point. This Is the End is made to please its
stars—Rogen, Franco, McBride and also Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Jay
Baruchel—and its co-director Evan Goldberg, who directed with, of course,
This Is the
End is so devoid of good ideas,
smarts or laughs that it’s hard to understand just what its purpose is. I can
only conclude it’s to get those six friends together who appear on the poster,
and let them riff. And, boy, do they riff.
Franco and McBride have a staggeringly lengthy argument about whether it’s
appropriate to masturbate and then cum all over the one piece of porn—an old
issue of Penthouse—that exists in the house the six share. McBride
thinks it’s fine. Franco, whose magazine it is, thinks it’s decidedly not fine.
This argument goes on for what seems like forever, but is probably about 60
seconds, and—this is a guess—they each use the word “cum” approximately 20
all be great—who doesn’t like a good cum joke?—if the conversation were funny.
But it isn’t. The repetition only drives the unfunniness of it home. Franco and
McBride try really, really hard, but the joke falls flaccid.
gag: The guys mount a home-movie version of Pineapple Express 2 to stave
off boredom. Unfortunately, all of This Is the End feels like a home
movie, only with better lighting (but not much better).
let’s be honest: “plot”—is that the world is ending, literally. All the friends
are at Franco’s new state-of-the-art fortress-like home for a party, and they
hunker down after the rest of the party guests flee in terror when Los Angeles
members play versions of themselves we’re familiar with. Rogen is Rogen-ish
(someone even asks him whether he ever plays parts in which he doesn’t play
himself). McBride, who’s usually funny in asshole mode, seems bored. Franco
takes the whole thing pretty seriously. Robinson is charming as always, and
Hill plays a syrupy sweet version of himself. He’s the only actor who seems to
be playing against type.
weapon—as pointed out to me by another critic and friend—is Baruchel, who once
again is the best thing about the production he’s in (see also: She’s Out of
My League, Cosmopolis, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Knocked Up). He
manages to keep the movie grounded with some humanity while the rest of the
cast is making dick jokes (so. many. dick. jokes.)
He plays to
type, too, as the only person in the movie not to have gone Hollywood—Baruchel
is proudly Canadian, in the movie and in life—and maybe that’s why he’s the
soul of the picture. Who can really say? The whole point of This Is the End
is to make penis yuks, so the sweetness of one character gets lost in the
metaphorical semen of the other five.
some belly laughs, maybe five in total, and there is one inspired casting
choice. Emma Watson pops up playing a version of herself who isn’t about to
take shit from her new housemates. That she does it without winking at the
audience is a pleasant surprise. If only co-helmsmen Rogen and Goldberg
directed the rest of the cast that way.
But at the
same time, any movie in which Mindy Kaling and Michael Cera die horribly in the
first 15 minutes can’t be all bad. Can it?
THIS IS THE END
Directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
With Rogen, Jay Baruchel and James Franco
Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14
Santa Fe Reporter