Every summer there is always that one comedy that becomes a hit (both critically and commercially) and ends up being talked about for months. Tedwas clearly last year’s version, and The Hangover and Bridesmaids are some other recent examples. This Is the End was released into theaters last weekend and it has to be considered an immediate contender for this year’s comedy of the summer. It may not be the box office hit (so far) that the other films that have been mentioned were but it makes up for that by being one of the biggest blasts at the theater in a long time.
This Is the End follows Jay Brauchel (playing himself) as he returns to Los Angeles to visit his good friend Seth Rogen (playing himself). Seth brings up the idea of going to James Franco’s house warming party, and despite Jay’s protesting, this is where they find themselves when the apocalypse happens. Now the surviving band of actors must not only find a way to survive but also figure out what is causing the apocalypse. The film is directed and written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have made a career out of stoner comedies under the producing eye of Judd Apatow. So while they have always shown potential, they have usually gotten stuck under the shallow and overlong style of Judd Apatow. Without Apatow being involved, Rogen and Goldberg finally reach that potential with this film. It’s still just a stoner comedy, but the jokes fly off the screen at an unbelievable rate. While the film (with a running time just under two hours) could be considered long for a comedy, Rogen and Goldberg actually use that time to include some interesting commentary (the portrayal of celebrities’ roles in present day America is really well done) and character depth. That wouldn’t have happened if this was an Apatow production. Rogen and Goldberg also do a surprisingly good directing job too. The pacing is solid, the suspenseful scenes are suspenseful and the effects are incorporated in stellar fashion. However, what really steps the direction up is the way they effectively stage all of the cameos.
While there isn’t any Oscar-worthy acting in this, it was great to see these actors take risks and have almost all of them pay off. Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride are not afraid to make themselves look bad in this film. It was shocking to see how much of an anti-hero the film made Jay Baruchel (who is the main character in the film) and it was great to see James Franco allow so much riffing on his real life persona. It was also great to see Baruchel and Craig Robinson (who plays one of the few characters who is sympathetic throughout the film) actually get substantial roles in a good film. Both took the most of that opportunity. In terms of already publicized (heavily within the trailers and elsewhere) cameos, Michael Cera has one of the best as he plays a sex and cocaine crazed version of himself, while one other cameo that hasn’t been revealed will end up as one of the best film moments of the summer even if it is a bit short.
This Is the End is the most fun you will have in a theater this summer.