So, what happens when you take the Justice League of Judd Apatow actors and throw them all together in a single house during the apocalypse? Dick jokes and surprisingly competent horror comedy!
Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg made a trailer for an imaginary film years back called Seth and Jay vs The Apocalypse . This is the feature-length expansion of that idea and it transformed into one of the funniest movies I've seen in years.
This is the End has six actors - James Franco, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel - trapped inside James Franco's house after an insanely packed party. Why? The end of the world. What works so well here is that, yeah, we get the lewd and often juvenile humor associated with a lot of the expanded works of these guys but it also brutally satirizes Hollywood and celebrity. All of this is wrapped up quite nicely in a well shot and put together package by first time directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg (the two also pulled writing duties here) with a sincere and moral core to it.
There are things that don't work, to be honest, and some jokes just fall flat. Rogen and Goldberg keep things moving pretty briskly though and serve up another ten jokes that absolutely work, or rather tense set piece I was seriously shocked at how well these first timers did with inserting the right horror beats in along with all the dickery.
Robinson proved to be one of the best parts of the entire affair. His understated delivery and quieter moments served to offset that rather constant barrage from the rest of the crew. He was the counter-balance to the sheer lunacy of Danny McBride's character. He takes a selfish douchebag persona about as far as humanly possible and beyond. It is glorious.
One of the things that you might not expect from all these Hollywood guys making fun of Hollywood in general is that it does not shy away from hammering home the point that this is the "End of Days" detailed within Revelations. There are people getting taken up in those sick Rapture tractor beams, demons roaming the Earth after it opens up (and kills a stupid amount of celebrities in the process) and so forth. The imagery of the Hollywood Hills split asunder and on fire were surprisingly poignant and an interesting offset to, say, a joke involving who gets to split a Milky Way between the six guys.
I mentioned a moral core to this film earlier? It's pretty simple. Don't be a dick to one another. That is crucial to the heart of the film and these men, who are all friends, have done wrong by each other and to others. It is in seeking redemption that getting out of this horrible situation might be possible. Well, making the best choices possible anyway. It isn't surprising that the Justice League of Judd Apatow actors getting together to make a comedy has a surprisingly warm heart to it. Throw in a ton of great cameos (Michael Cera might have just earned Untouchable status with his appearance in the beginning of the film) and you've got a film that, while hard edged and full of dick jokes at times, really delivers in consistent laughter. This is, horror elements and warm center aside, a comedy. Does it make you laugh? I'd say the packed theater of people laughing their asses off answers that question. I know that I was constantly laughing and a few times I was nearly crying from how hard I was chuckling.
This is definitely the comedy of the summer without a doubt. Go see it. Seriously. Go now.