This is the End: Summer Apocalypse, Part 1

“There are no words” and “I don’t know what just happened” are just a few of the sentiments that were expressed in the theater at the end of This is the End, and I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. The movie that finally brings your favorite American stoner buds together “as themselves” is better than you thought it would be, but not as good as you secretly hoped it would be.

Just a note, but this review will contain joke spoilers, and comedies are usually viewed best totally fresh.

The plot is fairly straightforward and slim. Jay Baruchel is visiting his buddy Seth Rogen in L.A. Not a big fan of the Hollywood scene, Jay reluctantly agrees to attend a party at James Franco’s house with Seth. While they’re there, all hell breaks loose — literally. That’s right, it’s the rapture, and the apocalypse ensues, leaving Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride trapped in the fortress-like house that Franco designed himself.

It starts out strong, with quick, snappy dialogue and lots of laugh out loud moments. After all, this is a movie that answers the question “is Micheal Cera’s butthole as adorable as [you] pictured it?” Even the front end of the post-apocalyptic section of the movie is more hit than miss, with a strong entrance from McBride, and some killer vignettes like a crazy drug trip and a homemade movie sequel. But as the apocalypse drags on, the movie starts to drag as well.

This is the End is based on Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, a 2007 short film, and it shows. The movie often plays more like a series of “Funny or Die” vignettes than a feature film. There are lots of potential plot concepts that are touched on, but never fully fleshed out, like a food and drink black market, secret alliances, and “Road Warrior” mentality — all things you expect in a post-apocalyptic setting. The same can be said for some of the overarching wannabe themes of friendship, sacrifice, and redemption. It tries hard to be cohesive, but just doesn’t quite pull it off. You feel like writer/directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg had some really great ideas, but couldn’t quite bring them to full fruition.

That being said, I enjoyed it. There were plenty of times where the whole theater was laughing out loud, which helped make up for the slow parts. Though McBride’s brand of loud and crude can wear on you on after too long, he gets some of the movie’s best lines with his funny-because-they’re-true observations about his fellow actors and their films, and he and Franco have an epic verbal altercation. The CGI and effects are hit or miss — mostly pretty decent, but occasionally laughably fake looking. The closing scene is so ridiculous that it can’t be put into words, and I mean that kind of in a good way and kind of in a terrible way — you’ll just have to see it (editor’s note: it is one of my favorite endings of all time).

I don’t think Rogen & Co. are going to win any new converts with This is the End, but if you’re even moderately a fan of any of the main cast members and their work, you’ll definitely enjoy it. It’s a fun first installment in the summer of apocalyptic comedies, and will whet your appetite to see your favorite British stoner buds in August’s The World’s End.

Originally published at on June 15, 2013.

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