I must begin with a confession. I have never been a pot smoker, I am not a drinker, I feel self conscious about the use of foul language and mocking religion seems to be a bad thing from my point of view. Having said that, this movie plays on all of those concepts and it is pretty damn funny, even to someone like me who generally does not “party” like all the actors being portrayed here. I know enough about Hollywood and how it works and while I don’t follow any scandal sites, I do have a average persons knowledge of some of the characters here. If seeing Michael Cera mock the degree to which he is despised, or Seth Rogan re-evaluate some of the choices he made sounds funny to you, this is the flavor you are looking for.
There is a simple concept behind the movie, what would the end of the world be like for a bunch of pot addled Hollywood types? If the Apocalypse is anything like the Bible forecasts, it is not going to go well for most of them. This is a combination of religious philosophy and bomb shelter mentality. Ideas that were explored on the Twilight Zone fifty years ago are revisited here with the added twist that most of the characters don’t have much moral fortitude to begin with. Some thoughtful moments of human wisdom are combined with desperation to survive and the result is hilarious. As the characters begin to subvert their friendships, exploit each others weaknesses and look for redemption at the same time, they explore what is truly funny about being molested by demons or consumed by the fires of hell. Let me assure you it is damn profane.
All of these actors come from a school of humor that basically puts no limits on the kinds of things a person can say about another person, even if the end of times is not present. They s@*t talk each other and say the most vile things when they are simply high, it is not that much worse when all hell breaks loose, except that now we can add on violence and screaming and the kinds of slapstick that might seem pointlessly childish without the story set up.I don’t get the feeling that many of them are acting, they seem to be themselves. That does not mean that they are the way they are portrayed in the story, but that they speak in their normal rhythms and pitches, they have the same vocal qualities that go along with being a member of the group. James Franco is an enthusiastic head case, Seth Rogan is a cool dude who is a little too needy, Jay Barucel is an awkward outsider who fits in the group but is not sure why, Jonah Hill is the nice guy who could just be faking it, Craig Robinson is funny but a little insecure and Danny McBride is the cocky self centered egoist without a real sense of worth. I said all of that in the politest way possible, they will say the same things in the most horrifyingly honest way you can imagine and you will probably be like Seth when the tigers showed up in “Gladiator”.
There are dozens of cameo appearances by stars great and small. TV personalities seem doomed to die early and movie co-stars get slightly bigger exits. I’d have to see it again to see what happened with a couple of the personalities that are at the party at Franco’s house when things start going wrong. There are also some late surprises that are worth a giggle and a guffaw or two. I would consider seeing a couple of the film projects that get some time in the movie. There is a sequence where Franco and Rogan talk about a sequel to “Pineapple Express”. Neither of them has any idea of what the story should be but they are high and in love with the idea. This movie was probably written the same way. No one knows what it is all supposed to be about, but there has to be some funny material here and they will just run with it.
“This is the End” is another in a long line of films made by these actors over the last ten years or so. Clearly they feel some degree of friendship for each other, these movies are not star turns, they are joke fests. It seems no one wants to be left out even if they end up looking like a douche. It is an acquired taste and I cannot recommend it to everyone, but if you have a high tolerance for dope humor, gross out comedy, silly situations and have enjoyed any of these performers in the last few years, you’ll probably like this movie. My biggest laugh was based on the amount of blood that gets sloshed out of a severed head. If that does not sound funny to you, stay away. If you are under thirty, a pot smoker or just have a twisted sense of humor, go for it. The worst that can happen is that you are damned to hell.