Nothing Ruins A Party Like The End Of The World
This Is The End’s story opens simply enough, with Jay Baruchel arriving in Los Angeles to see long-time friend, Seth Rogen. In an attempt to create a gelling between Seth’s different social circles, he brings Jay to a house-warming party at James Franco’s newly built mansion. At the party, Jay feels abandoned and left out, unable to really get along with people he barely knows or flat-out doesn’t like, to the backdrop of several celebrity cameos. Feeling ostracised, Jay heads to a local convenience store to buy cigarettes, with an intoxicated Seth in tow. At which point piercing blue lights rain down from the heavens, selecting specific members of the public and sucking them up into the sky. For those that remain, Los Angeles starts to literally tear itself apart. After the majority of the partygoers are killed, only six of the actors remain: Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride. As the days pass, petty frustration leads to bitter feuding and all out fighting. All the while, Jay starts to piece together what’s actually happening and a way for them to be saved.
Outside of the initial premise and rough storyline, the majority of the film is quite clearly wonderful, silly, immature ad-libbing. Many detractors will claim this is a negative aspect but when considering cluster fuck messes (like the recently released Movie 43) this really isn’t that awful. One of the reasons this film works is because it takes a simple concept and relatable social interactions then flings them at the outwardly-appearing perfection of the lives of the rich and famous. By emulating cowardice, petty squabbling and selfishness, none of the leads are particularly likeable but their crude and vehement bickering over trivialities, when basic necessities have been taken from them, is where the humour thrives. Admittedly, this is a vanity project; a group of guys sitting around saying “What if we were stuck together and the world was ending?” A self-indulgent, semi-biographical analysis of your feelings towards your friends, using an odd script to clear the air and voice some real-life issues. But like all vanity projects, the poor foundation shows through and affects the finished product as a whole; specifically the notion that calling yourself out on your poor casting choices, sell-out LA attitude and lack of project diversity, only to then perpetrate the exact same flaws. One could also complain that there’s next to no character arc, that none of the characters change from how they are introduced to the end of their plot thread. Narratively speaking, we believe this to be an example of bad, lazy and unappealing writing. In real-life, however, this is completely true, which makes it difficult to critique in a movie that openly admits it’s (on some level) trying to emulate real-life.
When it comes to comedies people immediately forget the technical aspects. I don’t know why, they’re just as important and hold the same worth as something dramatic but the writing/jokes seem to be the main focus of reviews; in the case of my recent review for The Internship, it was the only positive thing I had to say. The camera work is simple yet highly effective and the cinematography makes good use of amber-hued lights and several smoke machines to embody that eternal inferno atmosphere. The visual effects are sparsely used but surprisingly impressive when called for. Granted, crude and ridiculous in places but it feels fitting in this brand of film. Additionally, the soundtrack and score meld pretty impressively, jumping from contemporary party hits to Henry Jackman’s elaborate, hellish, choral thundering.
One thing the film lacks is a certain degree of charm. And this is probably the biggest fault I can lay on this release. To compare it to something like Shaun Of The Dead, the scope and scale are similar (in the apocalyptic sense) but while the emotional tonality is the same, This Is The End is so much more loud, crass and excessive [insert snide comparison between American and British sensibilities here]. What this boils down to are extremely vulgar setups for jokes that some will label as sophomoric or juvenile.. and they are.. but they’re delivered well, so they’re genuinely funny. But without the charm of personality, the lack of variety in locations, scenarios and joke fodder really starts to grate. I mean, I’m not prudish but promoting positive drug use in film is always weird. I’m neither pro or anti drugs, I just think films that try to show a positive side don’t really get their point across. It’s sort of like my opinion of sex scenes in movies: unable to show or convey actual sensations, audiences are just shown a lot of weird imagery, camera motion and quick cuts.
This film isn’t trying to appeal to a wide demographic or attain fans who would clearly disapprove of swearing, piss drinking and demonic rape. It’s a movie with a simple entertainment goal, a two dimensional plot and a rather well hidden story about friendship. Deeper than that, though is the very un-Hollywood statement about the moral core of the successful and while people may consider themselves inherently good, we’re all rather surprised when an external force reminds us that we’re all pretty shitty. If you think that sentence doesn’t apply to you, then it especially applies to you! Admitting they haven’t lived their lives well and coming to terms with the fact that they possibly deserve the torment is quite unique for cinema and for that reason, the wank jokes, cannibalism and dumb rivalries are all elevated somewhat, making This Is The End surprisingly rewarding.
28th June 2013
The Scene To Look Out For:
A day or so into the chaos, Emma Watson turns up, armed with an axe and seeks refuge with the main group. Tired and emotional, she goes off to sleep in Franco’s room. Outside the bedroom door, Jay explains they should make her feel better and be attentive not to give off any kind of vibes. After initial confusion as to what Jay is referring to, Danny bluntly explains, “He’s talking about giving off a rapey vibe.” This erupts into a massive confrontation about who does or doesn’t come off as a rapist, all within earshot of the young actress, who freaks out and threatens the six men with her axe. Either that or Jason Segel sounding rather frustrated with the monotony of his role on How I Met Your Mother.
**more spoiler stuff**
Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride really stand out as the polar opposites of the moral compass. Jay represents the majority of cinemagoers who believe they are good people and given the chance, can prove they have it in them to earn redemption. Danny, on the other hand, is a rather vile human being who spurns the idea of redemption and revels in the chaos and sin. Both of these roles are embodied so brilliantly and believably that one would be forgiven for punching Danny McBride in the face for being such a douche.
“Something totally not chill happened last night”
In A Few Words:
“Shock value vulgar hilarity with a surprisingly earnest analysis of friendship but fails to really soar due to a lack of visual diversity and one too many jokes that run on a little too long”