When done right, there is not much that can eclipse the humor of Hollywood cracking wise about itself. Unfortunately, it’s also not done often enough, or at least not for a full two-hour runtime of a major motion picture release.
That all comes to an end with This is the End, a hilarious apocalyptic doomsday movie that follows the likes of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and a host of other Hollywood celebrities, playing, well, themselves. The premise and running joke through the entire film is of course that celebrities still care more about their cell phones and larger-than-life sculptures of penises than that of each other as as the world seemingly crashes down around them.
Predictably, most of the actors will probably be the first to tell you they are playing exaggerated caricatures of themselves, with the possible exception of Danny McBride. I call bull feces. If anything, some of these actors seem quite at home with the role of themselves, particularly Seth Rogen, who I’ve now determined really does play the same type of role in every film he’s in, as alluded to in the opening scene of the movie. The only difference with This is the End, now he doesn’t have to remember a fake name.
Another actor this concept seemed to benefit was James Franco. Those who have followed the Outlaw may know that I’m not a member of the Franco Fan club, nor do I think one should even exist. I have seen the light, and while dim, I now have a new respect for the actor. Call me crazy – and I know you will – but I thought it was one of the better, if not one of the best acting performances I’ve seen from him. It also didn’t hurt that he considered himself the big nerd of the group.
WARNING: The beginning of some minor spoilers ahead. I don’t ruin the plot or twists, trust me.
I had the utmost pleasure of seeing the move with good friend, movie buddy, and most importantly fellow Outlaw, Erika “Spunky Destructor”. Her nickname alone was so fitting for the subject matter, it would have been sacrilegious not to invite her. I felt that this was also a fitting review seeing that this marks the end of my old site design, and the beginning of GeekOutlaw 2.0!
Speaking of a word that has the word religious in it, the movie itself, while a comedy to the core, did contain a very central message about religion, faith, and how that might play into the type of people was are today. Mind you, it was nothing deep, and most of it was treated lightly, but that element was so well integrated into the story, it might make anyone to give a second glance to the good book.
Keeping on the subject of well integrated elements, the inclusion of humor, horror and special effects were balanced so well, it couldn’t help me think about another little movie that I may have told one or twice that I’m fond of, Ghostbusters. Even some of the last scenes which revealed the true nature the second to last scene had a very epic terror dog and Stay Puft like feel to it. Despite those fond memories, this was no Ghostbusters, which leads me to one of the very small dirty issues I had with the movie, vulgarity.
Before you guys get on my testosterone induced case, it has long been proven that my mind missed the pure and innocence bus many moons ago, so it’s not as if and stick my nose in the air at the thought of a raunchy comedy. On the contrary, the explicitly over-the-top dialogue had me cracking up harder than any movie has in a long time. Part of me just wishes there were more movies that could accomplish this type of result without 110% of the references being to illegal drug use, rape, and self-gratification.
On a related note, I would have loved to see Paul Rudd play a larger role in this film, not just because he is hilarious, but he pulls off much of his comedy playing it straight with a well-timed joke or facial gesture (ala Bill Murray). I feel like This is the End could have used some of that balance among the endless stream of ejaculation jokes.
Getting back to the land of the positive, one of the other component of the film I appreciated was the geek references made throughout. Whether it was Lord of the Rings, Terminator, or Harry Potter (thanks to a very special and sexy cameo), the short but significant mentions not only made me feel like these true-to-life characters enjoy geek culture, but it was very apropos for an end of world apocalypse tale.
Despite all the doom and gloom of the entire movie, the movie is quite literally one laugh-out-loud (notice I didn’t type the infamous short-hand) moment after another. In fact, between the humor and the more intense jump-out-of-your seat moments (yes, there were some), the film moved along so quickly it almost felt like the end came to soon and was easily one of the funniest movies I’ve seen since the last time the world almost ended. Although, those two adult beverages I had before the theater lights went down may have had some say in this review as well. As a capper, Rogan and company even manage to end the flick on an upbeat note with a surprise musical guest that leaves you feeling good about life, while at the same time suggesting that the apocalypse might not be such a bad thing afterall… unless of course you happen to be Michael Cera.