Ryan already tackled This Is the End in a review earlier this year, but I couldn't resist rounding out this year with another apocalyptic comedy after The World's End and Rapture-Palooza. The former was an excellent drama and a good comedy, the latter dragged out unfunny scenes to painful lengths. Craig Robinson manages to pull off a pretty neat trick with his appearance in This Is the End. After providing Rapture-Palooza with its one, and only, chuckle his presence here is an affirmation that he is a very funny man who usually works with equally talented people.
For those in doubt, This Is the End is hilarious and bold in a way. I was surprised that it managed to be so raunchy without actually being offensive. There's the potential for a lot of dudebro gay panic and sexist humor but despite the many sex jokes, and presence of one demonic appendage, its more willing to poke fun at its leads than anything else. The meta-humor went from the broad, like a running gag about Seth Rogen basically playing the same guy - to the weirdly specific. One gag involves James Franco repeating a line from Spider-Man 3 that works both as an in-joke for those familiar with both films, to a joke that's similarly funny in the context of him trying to vomit back up a bit of Milky Way.
It does take a while to get going though. The first fifteen minutes are a bit too heavy on the personality establishment and not quick enough with the jokes, but that's almost a necessary contrivance to bring the audience in on all these relationships. Those more "in the know" about all the performers will undoubtedly have a deeper appreciation of the later comedy, but all the scenarios are nonetheless hilarious. Evan Goldberg co-directed with Rogen and they get great mileage out of the limited set and careful use of special effects. The increased desolation of the once posh home and weathered desperation of our heroes is a nice joke on both the destructive and vacuous nature of celebrity (something that Danny McBride embodies full-steam).
I admire the way that This Is the End balanced classic film references, gross out humor, ridiculous in-jokes, and sweet sentiment into what could have been an unfunny cash in of buddies hanging out. This may not make as much cash as Adam Sandlers' circle of friendship, but it'll stay along after the Grown Ups have left.
Screenplay written and directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen.
Starring an ensemble cast featuring James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Rhianna, and many more.