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What is the basic function of a comedy? A film falling into that genre is designed to make you laugh, right? Cool. If a comedy can do that and yet manages to do more, like present us with poignancy and pathos, even better. This Is The End, is not that film. It is designed to make you laugh and it succeeds to near home-run status. It is a straight summer comedy that feels a lot like hanging out with a bunch of friends and that is a strength of the film.
We begin with Jay Baruchel visiting Seth Rogen in Hollywood before they go to a celebrity filled party at James Franco’s lavish home. Pretty soon, as you might expect, the apocalypse hits and celebrities left and right are dying leaving only a handful of people left behind to figure out just what is happening and if they will survive it.
Everyone in this film is playing some version of themselves, which isn’t a new thing, but it is what gives the film its sense of self-awareness. It knows exactly what it’s about and what it sets out to achieve and it makes no qualms about it. It’s straightforward in its plot and execution. This movie definitely riffs on the world’s perception of the actors both on and off screen and it also touches on the culture of Hollywood. Its got great pacing and a steady stream of laughs throughout the film.
At one point, I couldn’t help thinking that with such a strong principal cast, each with his own comedic style, that this was a kind of The Avengers for the comedy genre, which made this film that much more awesome. Though the film’s story is essentially built around the relationship dynamic between Baruchel and Rogen, this is very much an epic team effort to make us laugh in the face of massive global destruction as the backdrop. How each actor plays off of one another is the film’s bread and butter and it’s hard to not appreciate how easy it feels. The fact that they are all friends in real life and have worked together on other projects certainly doesn’t hurt.
I must comment on the writing of this film because it is focused and witty and feels loose enough that the actors can improvise. These are great touches and with this film it’s probably safe to say that Rogen and writing partner Goldberg, have perfected their formula. Sure, some of the humor is crude and juvenile, but that’s okay. It’s still downright funny, thanks to how these actors executed. I was thankful that any gross-out humor was kept to a minimum.
This film also has no shortage of awesome cameos. Nearly every cameo is just long enough, no one overstays their welcome. The only person who wasn’t a part of the main cast I actually wanted to see more of, if we’re being quite honest, was Emma Watson. Particularly because this is something a little different than anything she’s ever done. I mean, it’s rated R! Come on, Hermione Granger in a rated R film? You have to see what that’s like! Still, her appearance in this film is an unexpected and very nice touch. Michael Cera’s presence in this film is also ‘mint’, to borrow a term from the film Super 8, which is to say he was great. He totally makes the most of his minor role as a character that is for the most part, a departure from the nerdy awkward guys he typically plays. He is having a good time and it shows.
If you’re looking for a film to make you laugh a bit this summer, This Is The End is a great choice. It could very well be the funniest film this year so far. I was trying to think of a comedy in the last few years that was as refreshing as this one and the only one I could think of was The Hangover, and while End isn’t as good as The Hangover, I think it’s not too far behind and it’s right up there with the classic Superbad. So if you’re ready to laugh in the face of the apocalypse, be sure and consider bringing a friend with you.