This is the End (2013)
Funniest thing I’ve seen in years.
This is the End starts with Jay Baruchel visiting his good buddy Seth Rogen in LA. Now, this is a special occasion because Jay Baruchel hates LA, not to mention all of Seth’s friends who live in LA. If it weren’t for Seth, he wouldn’t even make the trip, so being that it’s a special occasion and all, they hole up at Seth’s place and get to tokin’. Pupils get dilated and everything’s gravy, that is until Seth proposes they head over to a party James Franco’s new digs. Jay’s not a fan, but Seth promises he won’t ditch him to do lines with Michael Cera. So they go, everyone’s there, and as Seth is having a ball, Jay is ready to bounce. Eventually they take a stroll to get some munchies and whatnot when, all of a sudden, the Rapture goes down. Earthquakes, sinkholes, fires and bedlam as far as the eye can see. Completely forgetting the Funyuns they came for, they gun it back to Franco’s place and wait to be rescued. With four of their friends along for the ride, their situation intensifies as they try to survive.
Believe it or not, but apocalypse movies are a dime a dozen these days. Be it zombies, Mayans or trees with a vengeance, the masses just love seeing humanity get offed. I don’t know if there was a memo going around, but the same thing’s been true for comedies this year. To tell you the truth, I was going into this thinking it would be a placeholder of sorts until The World’s End arrived and made everyone forget this ever happened. That’s just the way things go with Edgar Wright. But now, I’m just wondering how he’s gonna top this? So with my expectations served and a slow clap on the way, it’s time to give credit where credit is due.
I guess the reason I wasn’t more excited about This is the End is because it’s been a while since I’ve seen these guys together and in their element. Even with comedies as their main m.o., just about all of these guys have been branching out into more dramatic affairs since Pineapple Express and Superbad. Don’t get me wrong, Moneyball‘s one of the greats and who didn’t like 127 Hours, but holy crap, I totally forgot how good these guys are when laughs are the menu.
If you haven’t heard, the gimmick of sorts is that they’re all playing themselves. When I say that they’re going over to James Franco’s house, they’re really going over to James Franco’s house that I’m assuming he built with his Oz money. Gimmick and all, there are three reasons why this is awesome: 1) This is a crew that knows how to have fun, 2) This is a party I want to be at, and 3) The last time they hung out it was effing hilarious. Remember Knocked Up? Remember them playing themselves and ripping on Martin Starr’s beard the whole time? Good movie in general, but you know what would have made it great? Two hours of beard jokes, baby.
You know, I’ve often wondered why this isn’t a more common approach with comedies. I remember talking with my uncle a while back and he said that if he were going to make a comedy, he’d just get all his friends together, press Record and shoot the shit for two hours. I wouldn’t call it a sure thing, but with the right group of friends and booze involved, that idea is pure comedy gold. Lucky for all of us, this is that group of friends and that’s exactly the approach they’re taking. And even if we’re not lucky enough to be part of this funky bunch, it’s a blast to be in on the jokes by just having watched their movies.
Much like with Knocked Up, a lot of the laughs come from all the shit these guys give each other and the way they’ve been written into the story. Take Michael Cera for instance, the adorable, timid son-of-a-bitch that he is. Well instead of writing him as another endearing George-Michael clone, yeah, he’s a coke fiend who has threesomes in James Franco’s bathroom. There’s a lot of that going on here and they’re all more than happy to self-deprecate. Might have come off as a one-trick pony if it was, oh, I don’t know, an Adam Sandler joint, but from one scene to the next, it never gets old with these guys.
Speaking of which, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a comedy that was so consistently funny as this is. Being a sage older brother and all, I recently had the pleasure of introducing my 10-year-old brother to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’d been a long time since I’d had a refresher course on the funniest movie ever made, and even after all these years, I still couldn’t believe how it kept the laughs coming. Those kinds of comedies are hard as hell to find, and while I’m not saying that This is the End is the next Holy Grail, it’s just as consistently funny, if not more so. Naysayers can thank Castle Anthrax for that one.
But wait! There’s more! Amazingly enough, that’s not the only thing these two movies have in common! I don’t know about you, but there really aren’t enough comedies out there going for that same degree of a full-blown silliness that the Pythons managed to perfect to a goddamn science. It was silly without being stupid, and while I’m not saying these guys are the next Pythons, they sure do strike that balance. One of silliest freakin’ endings you’ll ever freakin’ see and it is oh so freakin’ glorious.
Now, I can’t say much about the details surrounding the apocalypse they’ve created, but I will say that it’s far more inventive and original than I thought it would be. And given the way their chosen professions are eventually woven into their own survival, I dare say I’d call it smart. As clear as it is that these guys had a goddamn blast making this thing, it’s awesome having that extra elbow grease to bring it to a new level.
And as for the cast itself, Jesus Christ, take your pick. There’s not a weak link in the bunch and I’m still having trouble deciding which of them was my favorite. Right now, it’s a tie between McBride and Franco. If only for Season 1 of Eastbound & Down, Danny McBride deserves to be a household name by now and I’m crossing my toes that this finally does the trick. No one plays an asshole like Danny McBride, and he is such a funny asshole in this. In regards to Franco, that guy keeps giving me more and more reasons to like him, especially coming hot off the heels of his gun-suckin’ turn in Spring Breakers. Not that I ever disliked the guy, far from it actually, but given that he’s branched out more than any of his fellow Freaks, it’s always a welcome reminder that this is his bread and butter.
But like I said, everyone on that poster is firing on all cylinders. There’s no wrong favorite to play.
The last time I walked out of a comedy and had to restrain myself from quoting the whole damn thing verbatim was with the great Cedar Rapids. When you simply have to stop thinking about a movie for fear of alienating your friends or crashing the car from giggling so hard, that, dear readers, is when you know you’ve found something special. And thank god for that, because we’ve been knee-deep in a comedic dry-spell for quite some time now. Bridesmaids was two years ago, folks. Two very long-ass years ago. But now that This is the End has arrived in all its endlessly quotable glory, water never tasted so good.
Man, I’d see this again in a heartbeat, I even suggested it to my parents it was so good. I know it’s only June, I know we’ve got some contenders on the way, but from where I’m sitting, they’re gonna have a hard time dethroning this as the funniest movie of the year.
Certainly wouldn’t complain if they did, though.