James Franco’s having a party and we’re all invited! Well, sort of. The directorial debut of co-writers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen took a brave move having a series of celebrities play themselves in slightly twisted/exaggerated roles and its one that could have been an absolute nightmare; a big pat on the back from one movie star to another but thankfully the checklist for Franco’s party specified that all egos had to be checked on the way in.
Here’s the basic plot outline: Jay Baruchel has come to visit long time friend Seth Rogen in LA for what he is promised will be a weekend jam packed with pot and video games. Rogen however has other ideas, James Franco’s throwing a huge party in his new home and Rogen thinks it would be a good idea for Jay to attend the party and get to know some of his newer, better known friends. At the party is practically every actor from a Judd Apatow movie alongside a few other famous faces, including Rihanna and most notably Michael Cera. So they head off to the party, Jay feels slightly uncomfortable and then pow, the end of the world begins and the movie provides us with perhaps its most memorable set piece. As the apocolypse begins we get to see a huge number of celebrities meet their demise: Paul Rudd, Jason Seagal and naturally- Rihanna.
We are then invited to witness the end of the world with seven surviviors: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride.
Sounds like it could be a pretty awesome movie right? Well thankfully, it is. Filled with self referential gags, hilarious set pieces and plenty of hilarious cameos This is The End hits all the right notes from the word go. Its B movie undertones work an absolute treat and provide the movie with a surprisingly surreal tone that just adds to the humour.
The movie doesn’t just earn its 15 rating with jokes about masturbation and rape either, it actually manages to supply a few genuinely horror like elements to its plot and the films all the better for it. Parodying the Exorcist has never seemed like such an original idea.
Talking of masturbation and rape jokes, a lot of people out there may be expecting the usual frat-boy type jokes that most are growing tired off and whilst this movie does have a few jokes that seem a little tired there are plenty of refreshing and hilarious scenes to please even the most cynical amongst us. An argument between Danny McBride and James Franco provides us with one of the movies most memorable exchanges and whilst the banter is certainly vulgar, its undeniably side splitting.
What really helps elevate this movie however is the surprising amount of heart it has. Yes it’s full of a lot of grotesque humour but it also has key themes running through out: loyalty, kindness and most importantly friendship are all emphasised through out the narrative giving it a surprising touch that really helps it overshadow all the rubbish that has masqueraded itself as comedy so far in 2013.
Yet still the most pleasing element of the movie is the one many were worried about. The actor’s portraits of themselves are incredibly well thought out, sending up both their onscreen and off screen personas in equal measure. Jonah Hill’s worrying about being the nice guy in Hollywood whilst dropping lines about his Oscar nomination, Seth Rogen is, well Seth Rogen, James Franco plays up the pretentious arty type perfectly whilst also adding an hilarious homosexual tendency to his personality, Jay Baruchel is perfectly cast as the outsider and Danny McBride is such a big asshole I actually forget how much I do really like him as an actor.
Verdict: The movie sets itself up well with a hilarious opening half hour and somehow manages to maintain the hilarity throughout its 105 minute runtime. You’ll never look at Michael Cera the same again.