Friday, 20 September 2013


(Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, 2013)

Self-indulgent but largely in a good way, This Is The End takes a load of actors most famous for their work in comedy, asks them to play "themselves", then maroons them inside a designer-pretentious modern L.A. house while the End of Days happens outside.
Some of what follows is very, very funny.
It starts off a quite different movie. Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen's old friend from Canada, arrives for a week staying with his friend in L.A. Baruchel plays the only "normal" character in the film, his responses recognisable and relatively convincing, and he is reluctant to go to the showbiz party at James Franco's fancy new house.
Seth drags him along, and there is a brilliant party scene filled with excrutiating scenes of awkwardness, broad comedy as a coked-up Michael Cera debauches himself, some skillfully integrated characterisation and a series of dazzling cameos.
Then beams of light crack open the sky and lift people into the heavens, an earthquake strikes, a massive hole opens up in the ground outside swallowing up most of the party-goers, fires consume Hollywood, and the group retreat to Franco's house to wait it out.
After that its a study of friendship under pressure, with these exaggerated personalities and their big egos clashing over how to divide up the food, who sleeps where, the nature of the situation and who goes out for supplies.
There are a few hilarious sequences - a conversation about not seeming "rapey" overheard by Emma Watson, for instance, pretty much every conversation involving Danny McBride, playing his usual boorish creep, and when the situation ventures into horror territory there is a surprising amount of comic mileage in scenes of the men running around screaming in terror. But it is about 40 minutes too long, many of the comic ideas fall flat, and there is an inevitable air of smugness to it all.
That however comes hand in hand with audacity and bravery - this is a crazy idea for a film, but it works, and is even occasionally inspired. Plus you get to see James Franco (as game as the entire cast) eaten by cannibals.

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