The Reel: Apocalypse Wow: ‘This Is the End’ is year’s best comedy


Ben Conniff

Grab your best buds and batten down the hatches, for the end of bad summer comedies and mediocre post-apocalyptic tales is nigh.

“The Hangover 3” was a drearily unfunny sequel that failed to bring back the inebriated glee that audiences once shared with the wolfpack.

“Oblivion” and “After Earth” were both dull, melodramatic takes on the post-apocalyptic formula and left nothing memorable in the minds of audiences.

But what happens when you take the proper dose of comedy and blend it with that post-apocalyptic formula?

In “This Is the End”, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and a bevy of other celebrities playing warped versions of themselves gather for a housewarming party at James Franco’s new pad.

When the festivities are disrupted by apocalyptic events, Rogen and the crew find themselves trapped inside the house with both limited supplies and dwindling patience for one another. Eventually the gang is forced outside into a decimated Los Angeles where they must face their fears and learn the true meanings of friendship and redemption.

“This Is the End” marks the directing debut of writing/creative duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who previously collaborated on “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express”. Their screenplay delivers the same gut-busting punch lines the duo are famous for, while delivering a handful of unexpected scares. Rogen and Goldberg deserve credit for maneuvering through several cliches while still keeping the mood fresh and funny. The scares are effective, but the film never loses its lighthearted focus.

Not much can be said about the acting performances because the stars all portray themselves. Seth Rogen stars as a likeable stoner, Jay Baruchel as that stoner’s awkward best friend who wants nothing to do with any of the folks at the party, Jonah Hill’s “Jonah Hill” is a nice guy who takes a turn for the worse and so on. The laughs come easy thanks to their presence alone. No matter how sophomoric the humor may be, be it arguing over McBride’s masturbation habits or Hill’s nightmarish encounter with a well-endowed demon from Hell, it’s hard not to chuckle at the very least. By the time the credits started to roll, my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much.

“This Is the End” is especially entertaining for its self-deprecating, satirical sense of humor. Actors portraying themselves as characters while cleverly commenting on the public’s idolization of Hollywood stars and their high-end lifestyle lend this comedy a brain to go along with its funny bone. Franco’s sexual orientation, art habits, and Gucci-model ship come under fire while Rogen gets made fun of for his laugh and “The Green Hornet”. Baruchel is often teased for not being very famous, which is why he appears timid among the bigger personalities at the party. A comment is also made about not making a sequel to “Your Highness”, the dreadful stoner-comedy that stars Franco and McBride. It’s refreshing to see these big stars take shots at each other and refuse to take their work too seriously.

Along with the brain and funny bone, “This Is the End” has a heart as well, with a major plot point revolving around the pursuit of divine salvation. The guys put aside themselves and work together to perform genuine acts of kindness and brotherly love in the film’s third act. The genuine sweetness of these scenes is consistently balanced out by the film’s salty humor.

Aside from a few shoddy visual effects shots and one or two jokes that are taken a bit too far, “This Is the End” serves as a consistently hilarious, engaging and entertaining horror-comedy. Rogen and Goldberg’s take on the apocalypse proves much more memorable than “Oblivion” or “After Earth” for its self-deprecating sense of humor and amusing sense of dysfunction among its leading men.

“This” is the chaser that washes out the bad taste the current crop of summer movies have left in moviegoers’ mouths.