FEARNET Movie Review: 'This Is the End'


this is the endIt's pretty amazing what first-time co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg pull off in the bizarre but consistently funny dark comedy known as This Is the End. Mr. Rogen is of course well-known for his onscreen comedy skills, but he and Mr. Goldberg were also the screenwriters on Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet, and The Watch -- which means they've seen hits, misses, praise, and criticism. So why not co-direct something in which a bunch of their famous pals play themselves?

Sounds like a recipe for an ego-soaked train-wreck, right? A case of two successful screenwriters wasting our time with a glorified party with their fancy friends? Or maybe just the same old schtick in a new package? Wrong, nope, and thankfully not. Truth be told, despite its almost fetishistic obsession with male bodily functions and its thoroughly vulgar banter, This Is the End is actually sort of a sweet, honest, and weirdly insightful farce about friendship, loyalty, and the importance of, well, just being a nice guy.
Plus it's funny for almost 105 straight minutes, and that's pretty impressive all by itself. 
This Is the End is about two pals, Seth and Jay, who attend a swanky Los Angeles party with a lot of their famous pals -- and then the world starts to end. Literally. I won't spoil the hows and whys of the sudden apocalypse, but let's just say that This Is the End begins like a star-studded satire of Cloverfield before settling in to become one of the darkest, weirdest, and funniest cinematic armageddons you'll ever experience. 
Suffice to say that the world is ending, and we'll get to experience it with Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride. Doesn't sound like much of a movie, does it? But at its best moments (which are many), This Is the End reminds me of a great Gene Siskel quote: "Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?" Here's your answer, Gene! Not only is the flick a strange little marriage between self-referential comedy and legitimate end-of-the-world horror, but it's also six excellent comic actors riffing off each other with a pretty impress batting average. If it's wrong to let a half-dozen funny guys make their own movie, then I don't want to be right. Plus the co-directors are smart enough to know when their "indulgent" moments should end and where the "plot stuff" has to come in.
Although it's mainly just a weird, raucous, and lovably foul-mouthed little farce about six famous but immature men, This Is the End also touches on themes like friendship, faith, and loyalty. Yes, there is some heart and sincerity buried beneath all of the crushed corpses and bloody carnage, but the laughs are what matter in This Is the End. Not only does each of the stars get a moment or two to shine, but there are also great little contributions from folks like Emma Watson and Michael Cera, a sly commentary about the difference between studio and indie films, and (once all hell breaks loose), some special effects lunacy that horror freaks will definitely want to see for themselves.
Personally I think this is one of the best horror-laced comedies I've seen in years, and it could only have come from guys who have A) firm indie hearts and B) wealthy studio backers. I've always liked (most of) Rogen & Goldberg's work, but this thing is some arcane little treasure of a movie.