This Is The End

Art & Culture

Do you believe in the Apocalypse, the Rapture and The End of Days? No? Well nor do Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and their buddies, I suspect – despite the climax to this odd and unusual film.

This belongs to a genre not yet clearly defined, but we can throw in the following categories: self-indulgent, pseudo-autobiographical; potty-mouthed; barmy; OTT; disaster movie; piss take. Is that enough to be going on with? Oh, you want me to try and describe the plot. OK, I’ll try. Just remember this, all named actors are playing themselves or versions of themselves. If I say Emma Watson, I mean that Emma Watson is playing herself – except that obviously she’s not really, because it’s a film. Still confused? Good

Seth Rogen meets his friend Jay Baruchel at LA airport, because they’re friends from way back, and Jay lives in Canada where they both came from, so has come to spend the weekend with his old buddy. They drink, they smoke weed, they play computer games, and then Seth announces they’re going to James Franco’s house for a party. Jay doesn’t like Franco and that whole LA scene, but Seth insists, so off they go. And there’s Michael Cera blowing coke and being a dick, and Jonah Hill, and Rihanna and Paul Rudd, and all the social detritus that surrounds them, and they’re all being narcissistic and silly and childish, just as you would imagine that sort of party might be. Jay is bored, so he and Seth go to buy some fags, and then there is an incident.

Well, it’s a bit more than an incident. Stuff starts falling, fires start burning, some people are surrounded by blue light and lifted to the heavens. Outside all is madness, so they rush back to Franco’s house, where the party continues, oblivious to the mayhem. Until a sinkhole appears in the lawn outside, sucking up all the guests except Baruchel, Franco, Rogen, Hill, plus Craig Robinson and the uninvited Danny McBride. They’re trapped in the house, with virtually no food and drink, and unknown dangers outside. And that’s just the start of the chaos.

It’s hard to know what prompted these more or less well known actors to create this particular scenario, unless it is the fact that it allows them to perform a script which is littered with swearing, bodily and sexual references, and a lot of petty bickering. Stuff happens outside the house, including a brief visit by Emma Watson, and the gradual realisation that it may be something more than a little local inconvenience. As the film progresses, the out there begins to demand equal time with the in there. It gradually becomes clear that they have to be Good to be Saved, and that’s a challenge. But the key subtext remains who likes who more (or less), and any number of trivial grievances.

It is relatively rare for actors to play themselves, for obvious reasons, and we should not be deluded into thinking a) that we are seeing the real people or b) that because they’re showing themselves to be self-preoccupied and shallow, that therefore they must be wise and self-aware. We learn nothing about who they are which we didn’t know already. The only issue at stake here is whether it’s funny, and here I’m going to sit on the fence. It’s not completely laugh-free, but nor is it hilarious. It’s not a complete stiff, nor is it a comic masterpiece. It is likely to appeal to people who liked Superbad, Pineapple Express  and other stoner movies featuring these guys. It’s not going to appeal to serious-minded Christians, people who like subtle characterisation and plot development, or anyone with an aversion to swearing and jokes about dicks, joints, and any form of unconventional sexuality. And that’s all the help I can give.

For those of you interested in origins, here is the clip they made back in 2006 to raise money for this film 7 years later. 

One other thing. Is it just me, or is it weird that it’s called This Is The End, the title of The Doors’ song used at the beginning of Apocalypse Now – which is what this film is? OK, it’s just me.



Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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