THIS IS THE END seems to come out of nowhere much like the Rapture the stars of this delightful, inventive comedy find themselves confronted with. A bit of a passion project from Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, and director Evan Goldberg, THIS IS THE END is one of the biggest surprises and funniest films of the year.
Starring many of Hollywood’s current hot comedy talent, the movie starts with friends Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel attending a housewarming party at James Franco’s new house. There they party with the likes of Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Jason Segel, Rihanna, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Mindy Kaling and others. The stars are all playing “themselves” or rather, hyped up – or in some cases – outrageously exaggerated versions of themselves. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who is being themselves and who is not.
Into the middle of this privileged bacchanal, The Rapture suddenly strikes and Los Angeles descends into anarchy around them. Many of the little people ascend to heaven. Many of the beautiful people are sucked down to Hell. The survivors hole up in Franco’s house waiting for their expected rescue. “They always rescue the beautiful people first, right?” one of them asks.
As the days pass, the rescue does not come, the meager supplies dwindle, and the best friends start to turn on one another. Cracks already present in their relationships turn into wide-open fault lines. They soon have to face the fact that nobody is coming to rescue them. What happens from there I will let you find out for yourselves.
Films about the end of the world are a dime a dozen these days (at least it is not zombies or nuclear apocalypse or a global pandemic). THIS IS THE END works because, like the best films on any subject, The End is used merely as the jumping off point for a story about characters. There appears to be a lot of improv going on here but the stars are all making fun of themselves. If you’ve ever wondered why there never has been a YOUR HIGHNESS 2 or whether Academy Award-nominated star Jonah Hill of MONEYBALL (how Hill introduces himself to God) is as nice as he appears, the answers will be found here. Maybe. THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (1962) and the TERMINATOR movies are all invoked and satirized along with reality TV, survival shows, preppers, and exorcism movies to name just a few. The language and humor are all definitely R-rated.
Movies about the end of the world stopped holding any interest for me a long time ago. I read a lot of spec screenplays and the world ending is by far the most popular topic and the one most badly told. So imagine my own surprise when I picked SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD as the best film of 2012. And I am quite confident that THIS IS THE END will show up on my Top 10 list for 2013.
I laughed so hard that it almost got me to forgive James Franco for SPRING BREAKERS.