If this really is the end, then we’re in for one hell of a laugh. Not only standing as the funniest film of the year, This is the End provides another remarkable look at friendship and its divisions amongst men, much like Rogen and Goldberg’s previous efforts. Here stands an apocalyptic comedy in which every actor plays themselves, with all of these celebrities visiting James Franco’s housewarming party. Seth and Jay are old friends, and since Jay is stopping in Los Angeles to hang with his pal, they start by smoking weed and playing video games at Seth’s. They then decide, against Jay’s complaints about Seth’s “new friends”, to head to Franco’s to see what everyone’s doing.
Michael Cera’s on coke. He spanks Rihanna’s ass. Jason Segel is on the verge of tears discussing sitcom tropes with Kevin Hart. There are countless cameos, with those being just a few of the highlights; the rest of this film relies on surprise and ingenuity, which abound. The fact of the matter is that so many modern comedies fail to produce original content. Yet this film seems to be bashing that mentality on its head, giving us what sounds like such a bland, boring idea (a bunch of comedic celebrities gathering at a house) and applying end-of-times and horror elements to an already strong cast. There are moments here when it’s almost slyly using its own inventions without us realizing because we’re too busy laughing hysterically.
The movie doesn’t hold back, either. What inherently works about the film is its ability to go all out and provide us with something we aren’t expecting, and the cast commits on all fronts. Unlike other ensemble films where the actors don’t seem to be engaging, this one solely works due to the cast’s chemistry, with every actor pointing out the others’ flaws behind a wall of love. There are little hatreds existing behind closed doors, plans being brought against others, and the references to the Bible lead to a gathering of friends in a manner that feels surprisingly wholesome. This is the End surprises above all else because it’s about something without feeling like it; we’re too busy laughing at every single moment that when the film reaches its epic conclusion, we sit back and realize that this might be one of the year’s standouts.
Grade: ★★★★½ (out of 5)